The old St Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, built in the 1860s, and other buildings on the site have been beautifully restored and maintained and are surrounded by manicured lawns and gardens. The owners have also cleaned up the burial ground, gathered together the remnants of some fallen markers and are keen to preserve what remains. However the cemetery, with many fallen and broken stones, shows the results of vandalism and neglect over many years.
Dating back to the 1850s and closed for nearly 100 years this cemetery commemorates many of the district's pioneers. Most of the memorials are of sandstone, some of which are still in excellent condition for their age, skilfully engraved in quality stone. Indeed, some of the ornamental engraving is particularly beautiful. However, the majority of the stones are badly eroded by weather and very difficult to read - especially those lying on the ground. One large stone has fallen face down so we were unable to list it. It is obvious that there are many unmarked graves. In some instances, the whole or part of a headstone has disappeared and there are some graves where only a footstone remains.
Amongst the inscriptions are three commemorating persons who were killed in a railway accident on 25 April 1890 when a runaway train from the Raglan Station, 5km east of Bathurst, crashed into another train close to the Bathurst Station. Thanks to Lynn Agland for this interesting piece of research.
Jean and I visited the cemetery on 4 February 2005 and made digital images and notes of every visible inscription. In compiling this list, we also consulted the NSW index of births, deaths and marriages to help determine some names and dates and for additional information. We found many variations in spelling between the sometimes phonetic inscriptions and official death records.
O'Connell is a village between Oberon and Bathurst. The cemetery is on the eastern side of the road at the rear of the erstwhile Catholic Church of St Francis.
The church and its associated school and convent are now privately owned and permission must be received to access the cemetery. Enquiries regarding burials may be directed to the Catholic Chancery Office, 84 George Street (PO Box 246), Bathurst NSW 2795.
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