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Templecorran Graveyard

The graveyard


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Templecorran graveyard is the oldest graveyard in Ballycarry. The graveyard is divided into sections reflecting the periods when additions were made to it. The area closest to the church ruin and on the west and south sides of it include the earliest gravestones and burial sites, while other phases were added in 1884, 1905, 1906 and 1913. The graveyard is still in use although burials now take place in existing family plots as all land has been allotted. A new graveyard is sited about a mile away to the south-west, at Rig-na-ham along the Bridgend Road between the village and Carrickfergus. A second, smaller graveyard, is attached to the adjacent St. Johnís Church, and is for the use of the Church of Ireland population in the area.

 

Templecorran graveyard would have been used by the families associated with the local Presbyterian congregation, which included adherents from surrounding rural districts prior to churches being established in their own localities. Families who later moved from the area and settled in Belfast, Carrickfergus, Larne and other areas are also represented at Templecorran.

 

The graveyard boundaries are marked on the west side by a modern wall which runs alongside the Bentra Road, by a stone wall and hedge on the south side, which divides the graveyard from the adjacent St. Johnís graveyard, and by hedges on the north side and on the east side. Prior to the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland in 1869 the graveyard would have been the responsibility of the Church of Ireland, but it is now administered by the Larne Borough Council.

 

The oldest stone in the graveyard dates to the Early Christian period and has an arc depicting the cross inside a circle. The stone has bevelled edges, which signify that it was a stone coffin lid. The stone is not, however, original to the Templecorran site, since it was unearthed by a farmer plowing a field about a mile north west of the graveyard in the early 1800s. An ancient graveyard was unearthed at the site at Lig-na-litter (inside the present Redhall Estate), but most of the stones were so broken up that they were thrown into ditches, according to the Ordnance Survey memoir of the parish. The one stone which survived in a more intact state was brought to Templecorran and placed there in an upright position. It is unclear whether it was used by a local family for a gravestone or not. No name appears on the stone, only the Early Christian engraving, and it is undoubtedly the earliest stone inside the graveyard.

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