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Templecorran Graveyard

Traditions associated with the graveyard


When graves were being dug inside the old church ruin in the past it is said that older walls and structures were found. These are believed to have come from an earlier monastery on the site. The presence of so many graves, however, makes excavation impossible. The fields across from the site were subject to a planning application and subsequent appeal, with the Historic Monuments and Building Branch of DOENI successfully arguing that the site was so significant that it should not be developed. Development has occurred within the east side of the enclosure, and at Churchlands an archaeological excavation ahead of development found evidence of a walled ditch forming part of the line of the enclosure. Neolithic remains were also found at the same site.


Another tradition of the graveyard is that seven admirals are buried there, although these cannot all be identified today. Other naval figures known to be interred in the graveyard include Noah Dalway, a former MP for Carrickfergus in the Irish House of Commons, and Dr Philip Fletcher, another naval officer buried in a vault opposite the wing of the church ruin used by the Dalways. Beyond these names, research has not been able to establish the validity of the tradition, however. It is known that one general, Sir James Steele, is buried at Templecorran, and around fifty graves of prominent figures are marked in a historical trail.


One tradition has it that the Church of Ireland numbers were so small in the parish that when Dean Jonathan Swift had charge of Kilroot and Templecorran parish he ministered at the latter and began one sermon with the memorable words ‘Dearly beloved Roger …’ (Roger being his manservant). Certainly the community was almost entirely Scots and Presbyterian, at least until the 19th century, and the Ordnance Survey memoir would recount that ‘In character, habits, customs, and in their accent, idioms and dialect, the inhabitants of this parish as much resemble the Scotch, if not more so, than those of any others in this county … There are not, nor have there been, any others of different extraction residing in the parish, perhaps since its original colonisation by the Scottish settlers of the early part of the 17th century.’

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