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Graveyard Information


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County : Down

Denomination :

Graveyard Name : Holywood

Civil Parish : Holywood

Town / Townland : Holywood

OS Reference : J401794

Other Information : The old church and graveyard are situated in the direct line of the Belfast-Bangor road at the north-east end of Holywood A church probably existed on this site since the 7th century and the place was known as Sanctus Boscus in the early 13th century when the present church was built The cast window and western end were added in the 15th century and the western windows of the nave modified in the 17th to be blocked when the church was abandoned In one of the windows has been inserted a 13th century coffin lid in good preservation with a pair of shears to the left of the cross The church belonged to Franciscan Friars during the 15th-16th centuries but they were expelled in 1541 In 1572 Sir Brian O'Neill burned it down to prevent its being used by the English However, it was repaired before 1622 and used as the parish church until the present Church of Ireland building was erected in 1843 The old parish registers were destroyed in Dublin and all now date from after civil registration The First Presbyterian church registers date from 1846 (marriage) and 1856 (baptism) and Second Presbyterian registers from 1858 (marriage) and 1857 (baptism) Roman Catholic registers date from 1866/7 Part of O'Laverty's "History of the Diocese of Down and Connor" was reprinted with an appendix as "The History of the Parish of Holywood" There is also a "History of Bangor Road Presbyterian Church, Holywood" by Thomas Bruce, Belfast, 1909 Other old churches existed in the parish at Ballymaghan and Craigavad and though the churches disappeared centuries ago the graveyards were in use until 1765 (Lewis) In the former 2 Anglo-Norman coffin lids were found, now in the Ulster Museum. It is also celebrated as the possible burial place of Con O'Neill The graveyard is densely packed but well kept All the stones with dates of death prior to 1865 have been copied and all but two of these (Brett and Dunville) are in the area surrounding the church between the west gate and the first crosg-path Within this area, however, eighteenth century stones are widely scattered except that there were no recorded burials inside the church until it became disused The walls inside the roofiess church are covered with memorial tablets of the mid-nineteenth century In recent years all the stones in the south-west corner of the graveyard were laid flat and the wall lowered to improve visibility for motorists This has resulted in much weathering and a few stones have been badly damaged in the process The oldest date of death recorded is 1645 but the name is largely unreadable. Volume 4, p 24 Introduction The parish registers were not all destroyed in Dublin and those dating from 1806 are in local custody Baptisms 1806-73, marriages 1826-56 and burials 1823-93 are available on microfilm in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

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