Canadian resident to visit family graves
Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council has said there is access to a historical cemetery in the area after concerns had previously been raised.
The local authority confirmed there is access to the graveyard at Monkstown Abbey in response to a request from the Times for an update on the condition of the site.
The site, which is just off the Knockagh Road, was officially closed in 1960 and is thought to date back to AD600. The graveyard, which is of Celtic origin, is also the burial place of King Fergus, the first King of Scotland.
The Times was recently contacted by a Canadian resident who plans to visit family graves at the cemetery during a trip to Northern Ireland to mark the 100th anniversary of her family emigrating to Canada in July 2020. She intends to visit the graves of her ancestors at a number of local cemeteries.
However, after conducting research into the graves at Monkstown Abbey, the woman found stories by the Times from 2012, which detailed campaigns by local residents to restore the site. The Times contacted the council to find out if the woman would be able to access the graves.
A council spokesperson said: “Visitors can access this through a privately owned field which is a right of way. This land is actively farmed. Care should be taken and appropriate footwear is necessary.
“The council cuts the grass in the cemetery twice a year and has a twice per year weed control regime.
“All cemeteries hold information valuable to visitors researching family history. For information on cemetery records call 028 90340080 or 028 9446 3113.”
In May 2012, elected members on the legacy Newtownabbey Borough Council were informed that possible funding could be secured from the Ulster Scots Agency for restoration works at the graveyard.
The council spokesperson said this funding had not been secured.