During my very recent trip “back home” I spent much of my time documenting cemeteries, grave yards and family burial grounds in Northern Ireland. One of the many that I visited was the Middle Church in Ballinderry where a large number of my ancestors are interred.
The Ballinderry Middle Church was built in 1668 under the direction of Bishop Jeremy Taylor, who also financed its construction. In 1824 a larger Parish Church was needed and a new Church was built. Initially the Church was to be demolished and rebuilt on the same site; however it was decided to use a new site less than a mile away.
Shortly after the building of the new church the ivy covered Middle Church had fallen into a state of disrepair. A well off parishioner donated £2000 for the repair and the Church was restored.
The Church today looks very much as it did when it was originally built; it is proclaimed to be the finest example of a “barn church” in all of Ireland. It has neither heat nor electricity and is lit only with natural light and candle light. The pews and majority of the fittings are all original.
The Middle Church is still regularly used as a place of worship in the summer months of June, July and August on the first and third Sundays at 7:00 p.m. The grave yard at Middle Church remains the Parish Grave Yard.
My excursion to this specific burial ground was a huge success and provided me with many more “crooked branches“ to add to my ever evolving family tree.
During my time at not only this particular grave yard, but many others; I came across various very old graves, some covered in ivy, and others that had been there so long that trees were growing through them. It made me wonder… who these “forgotten graves” belonged to.
Where are their descendants? Did they sail to the “Americas” in the 17th and 18th centuries? Will anyone ever return to Ireland to look for their burial ground? It makes me wonder…
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