The Ballinderry Middle Church

Forgotten Graves…

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.

RocketLife doc 1st

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.

RocketLife doc 2

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.

RocketLife doc family

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.

RocketLife doc forgotten

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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About CJ Murdoch

Looking For "Dead People"! My Journey Back In Time - Tracing my ancestors and researching the counties, cities and towns where they resided. Taking a “Glimpse” into their lives and stories and the times in which they lived; all in an effort to learn about their “Dash”! “I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of his friend. He referred to the dates on her tombstone from the beginning – to the end. He noted that first came the date of her birth and spoke of the second with tears, but he said that what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.” I have always been interested in researching my family tree and “hanging out” in cemeteries. Like most of us... I didn't ask enough questions when elderly family were still living. Oh, what I would give for 24 hours and a camera with my ancestors… just to sit and listen! I'm researching many family lines, including: Murdoch, Wilson, Berry, Love, Scott, Beattie/Beatty, Hendren, Sweeney, Robinson and Elvin; just to name a few. My families are predominantly from counties Antrim, Donegal and Londonderry. However, it seems that many of them, both maternal and paternal lines, originally hailed from Co. Donegal. I was born and raised in Northern Ireland and now live in Ottawa, Canada, making frequent trips back home to visit with my family. Of course those visits also include treks to the many burial grounds of my ancestors. My most recent trip back home was during the summer of 2019! Looking forward to August of 2020 when I will return. If you are interested in help tracing your ancestors I’d love to hear from you!
This entry was posted in Burial Records, Co. Antrim, Family History, Geneaology, Ireland and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Ballinderry Middle Church

  1. Gladys Baart says:

    I wonder with you Colleen. The folks who went before us, who laughed and loved, cried and danced; how much of who they were lives on in you by nurture and nature; storm and sunshine- you became the daughter of them all. Gladys


    • cjmurdoch says:

      Thank you so much Gladys! As a quote by Linda Hogan says: “Walking. I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.” ❤


  2. Sylvia Barrett says:

    Oh what a great trip you must have had. Some of my McConnell/Higginson family are buried there. Can’t wait to hear more about you visit. Really enjoy your posts. Sylvia McConnell Barrett


    • cjmurdoch says:

      Hi Sylvia, as always thanks for reading and the lovely compliment. We had a fantastic trip; still suffering slightly from lack of sleep and jet lag! However, it was all worth it! 😀 Do you have photos of the graves of your McConnell/Higginson families? If not I’ll be happy to search through my photos. I documented the entire grave yard. Although sadly, some of the headstones are illegible! Let me know if I can help!


    • cjmurdoch says:

      By the way Sylvia… I have Higginson and McConnell families in my tree too! We should check to see if we have a connection.


  3. evelynannie says:

    Hi Colleen, I have been thinking of you and thought “it’s August, you must be in Ireland” (yes I do have a life….lol) but I did remember. Lovely to see the beautiful pics esp the church, and I do that too, or when I see old photographs, I think, I wish one of those were of my family…!!!! Glad to hear your trip was successful, hope you had a wonderful time….Vicki, Adelaide, South Australia.


    • cjmurdoch says:

      Thanks Vicki; we had a fantastic time! It was a VERY full 3 weeks and unfortunately I didn’t do or meet everyone I wanted to. I think I would need 3 months for that! 😀 I came back with over 4000 images; headstones, documents and old family photos. It will take me the next 2 years to sort through them before our next trip. My husband had a great experience too (while I was hanging out in cemeteries)! He volunteered at the Ulster Grand Prix (the fastest motor cycle road race in the world); which is held just 10 minutes from my aunts house. It ended up him being made an official and he was working in the grid getting the bikes ready to race. He was interviewed by UTV (Ulster TV) and can be found on their website on a you tube video. He was over the moon!!! He’s was invited back next year; but the reality is we won’t go back until the summer of 2016! Lots more great adventures while I was there, including standing at the site of my 3rd great grandfather Sweeney’s old homestead. I could go on for days, but you’ll be able to read about some of the adventures over the next few months! As always, thanks for reading. All the best. Colleen


      • evelynannie says:

        Wow 4000 images, omg that is amazing…yes 2 years at least….lol. How fantastic for you though. When I was in UK in 2008 I just wasn’t prepared enough, I would love to go back and do more thorough searching. Must look up your husband on Youtube, what an amazing treat. My ex husband was into motorbikes and racing so I can totally understand his excitement. Sounds like a great trip all round. I hope the weather was nice too. Ireland looks such a pretty place. I am still trying to find out where my O’Leary family came from. Can’t believe no one knows. Mum said her mother never talked about her parents much or where they were from. She said they just didn’t do that back then??? seems so odd to me. Oh well….I just need to do more digging, just need to work out how….hope you are back to earth again now….Cheers again, Vicki


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