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Bonamargy Friary Cemetery

Other memorials with the ruins


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There are ten other headstones located along the interior walls of the ruined church building but there is no evidence to confirm the actual location of burials of those named on the inscriptions. However, although the inscription has long since disappeared, there is historical evidence for at least a number of burials, under a large slab of sandstone, at the east end of the church close to where the high altar was situated. It was here, according to O’Laverty, that Captain Stewart of Dundermod [in Clough parish] and his family and Dr. Francis Stewart, Franciscan and Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor 1740-1750, were buried.

 

One of the most interesting monuments in the cemetery is the circular primitive cross at the west end of the church which is traditionally believed to be the burial place of the locally celebrated Julia McQuillan, the Black Nun of Bonamargy. Local tradition recorded in the nineteenth century suggests that she belonged to the same family as the founder of the friary. Julia lived as a recluse for many years in a small house unattached to the main buildings after the departure of the friars in mid seventeenth century. Before her death, which took place in that century, she requested, as a sign of humility, burial at the west doorway so all who entered would walk on her grave and that after burial her coffin would be used for the burial of the next poor person who died. Local tradition also suggests that her sister lived with her for a period of time as did an out of favour Countess of Antrim. Nineteenth-century and much more recent sources refer to several prophecies she was alleged to have made about local events which have taken place since her death and also to her frequent haunting of the friary ruins.

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