Milltown cemetery digitises burial records and plans for columbarium

14 Mar, 2024 | Church, News

On 11 March, the historic Milltown Cemetery in Belfast (pictured) announced the digitisation of its burial records.  This body of work has spanned over the past 18 months and continues in its development, along with a number of important initiatives detailed below:

Digitalisation of Records
Over the past 18 months, significant work has been undertaken to digitalise its handwritten burial records dating back to 1866.  This new digital database will offer electronic access to details of over 200,000 burial records and over 36,000 graves located within this 55-acre landmark graveyard.  Welcoming this digitalisation of burial records, Father Martin Graham, administrator of Milltown Cemetery, said, “I pay tribute to all of those who have assisted with this painstaking project of transcribing the handwritten burial records onto an electronic database that will provide a welcome and accessible resource for those seeking to locate details of those buried within these sacred grounds.”

Development of a Columbarium
In recent times, increasing numbers of families and relatives have approached the cemetery seeking to have the mortal remains of their loved ones interred in a Columbarium following cremation.  In response to increasing numbers of cremations, Milltown Cemetery announced that it is now planning to establish a Columbarium within the grounds of the Cemetery for the interment of ashes.

Cultural Heritage and the Protection of Monuments
In addition to the many families attending funerals and visiting the graves of relatives each year, Milltown Cemetery also attracts significant numbers of visitors who seek to view those graves,monuments and memorials with significant Belfast history.  In particular, over the past year, in partnership with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the Cemetery Office has engaged in identifying war graves throughout the graveyard.

Drainage and Pathways
This ongoing programme of maintenance and modernisation also requires the Trustees to attend to essential works throughout the cemetery including the upgrading of drainage and pathways.  The lower boundary of the Cemetery extends into the ‘Bog Meadows’ and therefore presents with issues of drainage and access.

Cemetery and Community Partnership
The Trustees also announced that they have been working closely with West Belfast partnership on a cycle path for community use that will link Lisburn with Belfast City Centre.  Father Graham, said “The announcement of these projects are an indication that the Trustees of Milltown Cemetery are committed to the ongoing maintenance and modernisation of the cemetery to protect and secure its heritage, to serve the pastoral needs of parishes across Belfast and to engage the local community who visit this historic sacred location.”



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