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Public invited to attend service at new Memorial Stone for all those buried in unmarked graves

Email:

alan.millar@thechronicle.uk.com

A SERVICE of Remembrance will be held at Ballymoney Cemetery next Wednesday October 3 at 11am to remember the many hundreds of people from the local area who were interred in previously unmarked graves.

Clergymen from the three main Christian denominations will be in attendance at the recently erected Memorial to the estimated 680 people buried without a marker in the Knock Road graveyard.

These are Rev H Cubitt of St James's Presbyterian Church, Rev A Sweeney of St Patrick's Parish Church and Fr. F O'Brien of Our Lady & St Patrick's Church.

This service is being organised by Mr Andrew McMullan of James McMullan & Son Funeral Directors who have donated the Memorial to mark these graves.

The Memorial was put up in early spring and over the summer it was kindly planted with bedding plants by Causeway Coast and Glens Borough council.

Speaking last November about why he wanted to make this gesture, Andrew said: “We work in the community day out and its about giving something back to that community.

“This has been an idea of mine for quite a few years. I have been coming into Ballymoney Cemetery for 30 years and these sections of the graveyard have always intrigued me.

“There are believed to be over 600 people in those paupers sections.

“That's such a lot of stories, many of which are lost and will now never be known, but they are a part of the history of the town.

“At last there will be somewhere where they can be remembered.”

There are an estimated 680 people buried in this small area of ground.

This cemetery opened in January 1882 and was originally divided into 12 sections, with three of those set aside for the unmarked graves of 'paupers'. Of the first 20 burials in the cemetery 14 were interred in "The paupers' ground", with six of the individuals, all unrelated, and probably strangers, buried in the same plot.

These were people without the money to live day to day never mind pay for their funeral.

Burials continued in the 'paupers' ground until the middle of the 20th century.

The burial ledger, kept at Riada House, gives names and other personal details for everyone, though finding the exact plot where an individual was buried isn't always possible, with the ledger sometimes recording their resting place only as "the paupers' ground".

This information on the background to the 'paupers’ ground' was taken from an article written for the Chronicle by Historian Keith Beattie last November, who said at the time: “The Memorial which Andrew McMullan is generously providing cannot list every name, however it can finally give them a little of the dignity and respect which they deserve and also somewhere we should all take time, when we visit the cemetery, to pause and remember.”

This service is being organised in conjunction with Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council. Everyone is very welcome to attend.

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