In August of 2014 I was, once again, in the Derry City Cemetery searching for family graves. Since my last trip “back home” in 2012 my research had unearthed several family connections and various other family members who were also buried in this particular Cemetery.
I was looking for a few specific graves, which where proving very difficult to find. However, with the help of my daughter, aunt and an employee of the Cemetery, I was able to find and photograph them. The grave I was most interested in was that of my 3rd great grandfather Daniel Chambers. An ancestor that none of my living family knew about and a grave that no one attended! We were all completely unaware of its existence until very recently!
I was also looking for the burial ground of my maternal second great uncle James Beattie. Finally, his headstone and that of his second wife, Fanny, was discovered. It had been over grown by a tree – literally surrounded! I would never have found it if not for the help of my little entourage and a very knowledgeable Cemetery employee. He just wouldn’t give up – he said, “you didn’t come all the way here not to find it! Martin, I remain in your debt!
An excerpt from A Visitors Guide to Derry City Cemetery states: “From 1 January 1867 the graveyards attached to St. Columb’s Cathedral, St. Augustine’s Church and Long Tower Chapel were closed to new burials, with ‘access’ restricted to those families with rights to graves.
The City Cemetery was opened in 1853. The first reported burial was that of Robert McClelland, a 10-month old child who died 10 December 1853. Robert had lived on Orchard Street in the City.
Joseph Bigger, who died 12 January 1854; was the first adult buried in the Cemetery (His grandson, David, was Superintendant of the City Cemetery and actually lived in the Gatelodge). Today there are over 74,594 burials – an average of 400 per year. “
I look forward to my next trip “back home” and intend to spend much more time in this particular Burial Ground. It is a Cemetery which is very large, beautifully kept and one where I feel at peace. A Cemetery full of stories and “Hidden Headstones”!
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