Monday, 19 July 2010

Belfast City Cemetery

I paid my very first visit to Belfast City Cemetery on Sunday, and most interesting - not to say agreeable - it was, too. I simply strolled up and down the rows of graves. The Cemetery is located on the Falls Road. I drove through central Belfast; along the Grosvenor Road (passing the Royal Victoria Hospital); turned left on to the Falls Road; and continued along the Falls for a few minutes till I encountered it. It isn't hard to find because it is on the Falls Road itself and it has a corner entrance with railings and a large gate lodge.

Belfast City Council informs us that "Belfast City Cemetery is one of the oldest public cemeteries in Belfast and the city's first municipal burial ground. It was purchased in 1866 by Belfast Corporation (now Belfast City Council). It officially opened on August 1, 1869 and contains a wealth of historical information. Approximately 225,153 people have been buried on the site, including politicians, businessmen, inventors and industrialists".

The Cemetery is 99 acres in extent.
This Victorian graveyard contains a true cross-section of civic Society, including a viscount and viscountess, and several baronets.

It took me a while to discover Lord and Lady Pirrie's burial site (top), though find it I did. The Pirrie plot is remarkably modest, given that the 1st and last Viscount could have had a lofty obelisk or memorial erected, with a viscount's coronet and coat-of-arms thereon.

There were also the graves of the Anderson, Corry, Coates, Clark and Cunningham Baronets.

Several esteemed merchants and businessmen from east Belfast are interred here, too, including the Shillingtons of Glenmachan Tower; and the Henderson family, erstwhile proprietors of the Belfast Newsletter newspaper.

Finally, I wish to pay tribute to Councillor Hartley because I know that, despite our differing political stances and allegiances, he has committed a great deal of his time - a labour of love - to the City's cemetery. Having paid my first visit to the cemetery, I can easily understand why. Click on the images to enlarge the detail.

Commander Oscar Henderson CVO CBE DSO RN, father of Captain Bill Henderson OBE, was, I believe, aide-de-camp to His Excellency the Governor of Northern Ireland, the Duke of Abercorn, whose official residence was Hillsborough Castle in County Down.


Sandy said...

It's a fascinating place. Viscount Pirrie's grave did indeed have a statue to him on the plinth shown. It was considered too vulnerable and can now be seen in the grounds of the city hall, where it was erected recently after refurbishment. Aren't some of the memorials enormous?

Timothy Belmont said...

That explains it. I wondered if there'd been something else atop since it seemed a bit bare! Makes sense to have it in a more prominent location at City Hall, too.

Fascinating place, indeed. Abundant obelisks! Clearly a few had elevated opinions of themselves. :-)

Perhaps my sincere friends should club together for a grand one to Lord Belmont (to the Right Honourable ... etc...) :-)

Sandy said...

I'd imagine by the time your Lordship croaks there will be a virtual cemetery for cynical and increasingly disillusioned old bloggers. And presumably this blog will be available for all time, or until there is no longer electrickery to power the internet?

Timothy Belmont said...

Ha! Indeed, Sandy, I have the blog registered with the British Library.

Jenny said...

My paternal grandparents are buried there and for years I've meant to join one of Tom Hartley's tours during the Feile - maybe this year I'll get around to it. Thanks for a very interestig post. Did you know C S Lewis's parents are also buried there?

Timothy Belmont said...

Hi Jenny!

No, I didn't know about C S Lewis's parents being there. You're right though - a guided tour would be great because the cemetery is so vast that notable graves could easily be overlooked.

I'm sure I'll return before too long.