Cillíní and the Early Moden Religious Landscape

Lecture by Prof. Eileen Murphy

28th April 2023, 8.00pm

Sligo Education Centre (on ATU Sligo campus)

Cillíní (children’s burial grounds) are a recognised class of Irish archaeological monument that were used for the interment of unbaptised infants and others not permitted burial in consecrated ground. The archaeological evidence suggests that these sites proliferated from the 17th century and can be linked to the efforts of the Counter Reformation in Ireland, and a re-affirmation of the strict teachings on the need for baptism expounded by St Augustine of Hippo. At least 1700 of these poignant sites have been recorded across Ireland and they occur at a diverse range of locations, including natural landmarks, archaeological monuments, and abandoned Medieval ecclesiastical sites. The lecture will provide an overview of recent work on Cillíní and will explore their place in the early modern religious landscape.


Eileen Murphy is Professor of Archaeology and Co-Director of the Centre for Community Archaeology in the School of Natural and Built Environment, Queen’s University Belfast. Her research focuses particularly on bioarchaeology, mortuary analysis and children and childhood in the past. She has combined all of these areas of interest in her research on cillíní which has aimed to ensure these poignant sites are not forgotten.