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  • Writer's pictureStephen Callaghan

An American Revolutionary War Veteran's Grave in Birr

St Brendan's Church, Birr.

The old medieval church, St Brendan’s in Birr was replaced by a new church, also named St Brendan’s in 1816. when the new church, also St Brendan’s was opened in 1816. With this new modern church, the old one was de-roofed and the floor taken up, in fact some of the stone tiles had been used in the construction of the new church.

This new space inside the church allowed for more burials. Many of the people buried inside the now ruined church were the well to do of Birr society. Today we will look at one of these burials. Among the several box tombs we come across the tomb of Lieutenant Colonel William Blakeney Borough. Borough was a career officer and worked his way up the ranks as well as serving in North America during the turbulent Revolutionary period.

William was born circa 1751 and likely in County Clare. He was the son of Richard and Dorothy Borough who lived in Querin, County Clare. The family were descended from a French family with the surname Bouchéreau, which was changed to Borough. The family had fled France due to religious persecution.

William was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the 26th (Cameronian) Regiment of Foot around 1773. This was a Scottish infantry regiment of the British Army which was formed in 1689. He was posted to the North American colonies with the regiment. During the American Revolution (1765-1783) the regiment was initially posted to Lower Canada with the regiment being scattered along the frontier outposts. The regiment was later posted to New York and Staten Island. The regiment took park in the attack on Fort Clinton on 6 October 1777. The fort was taken without many casualties. The regiment remained on Staten Island and returned home in 1779.

Lieutenant Borough was promoted to Captain in November 1781. In 1784 he married Jane Boyd, the daughter of Archdeacon Boyd. They had a daughter Dora. Borough eventually reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1798, he retired from the army in 1805.

In October 1807 Lieutenant Colonel Borough was appointed to Inspecting Field Officer of Yeomanry and Volunteer Corps in Ireland. An Inspecting Field Officer was a senior officer responsible for troops within a certain area, in Borough’s case, Yeomanry and Volunteer units within Ireland.

Cooke’s History of Birr (1823) has William as living at Oxmantown Place, Birr. Lieutenant Colonel Borough died in November 1826.

His tomb consists of a cantoned box tomb, which is now missing most of the side walls. The inscription on his tomb box reads:

Here lyeth the Remains


Wm Blakeney Borough

Late Lieut Colonel of his

Majestys Cameronian Regt

of Foot

who depd this Life _ th Novbr 18_ _

Agd 75 yrs

Interesting to note that beside his tomb is another Borough, Franecs Maria, who died in 1818 when she was just 15 years old. Likely a niece of William, a notch has been cut in William’s tomb to accommodate Frances’ headstone. The inscription reads:

Here Lieth the Remains of

Frances Maria Borough

Who Departed this life

The 27th of December 1818

Aged fifteen Years

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