The inscription on this gravestone in the chancel of Ennis Friary reads “Here lyes the Body of / Mary Anne Canny who / depd this life Decbr 13th 1803 / Agd 6 yrs. Erected by her Father / Michael Canny of Ennis / Notary Publick for him and Family".
We do not know how Mary Anne died; sadly, this is one of a number of gravestones at Ennis Friary recording the untimely passing of the young. Like many inscriptions, particularly from the 18th and early 19th century, non-standard spellings occur, such as the spelling of the words “lyes” and “Publick” which gives them a unique character. Another feature of graves from this period is the recording of the occupation of the names of persons inscribed which helps us to identify and research these individuals.
Mary Anne’s father Michael, as the inscription tells us, was a Notary Public. The office of notary public is a branch of the legal profession and has a very long history dating back to Roman times. The functions of a notary include among others administering oaths, taking affidavits and statutory declarations, drawing up powers of attorney and authenticating contracts and deeds. While away at the court sessions in Miltown Malbay in 1803, according to a letter appearing in the Clare Journal of May 5 that year, “some villains attempted to break into and plunder his house”, part of a spate of such incidents in the town. The letter was signed by a number of the townspeople who pledged various sums of money as a reward for the apprehension and prosecution of the offenders. Michael Canny lived in Jail Street, since renamed O’Connell Street, he died in 1817 and his wife died in 1820. It is possible that they are interred at Ennis Friary also though this information is not recorded on this stone or any other.