The closure of the graveyard
During the eighteenth century the responsibility for maintaining Grange graveyard lay with the vestry of Donagheady parish and there are several references in the eighteenth-century vestry minutes to the burial ground. Grange was one of one two burial grounds in the parish at this time, the other being the graveyard around the Church of Ireland church in the townland of Bunowen about 5 miles away.
In the middle of the nineteenth century a new wall and arched gateway were constructed, probably using the last of the stone from the old monastery on the site. The square keystone of the arch is inscribed as follows: ‘This wall and gate | rebuilt by the | owners of ground | within | A.D. 1865’. It is not clear who these ‘owners’ actually were. Perhaps they were people who had burial rights in the graveyard. In 1929 Strabane Rural District Council began to give serious attention to Grange Graveyard. The Council had already spent some money on some general maintenance of the burial ground, but it now decided that it had to take the necessary steps to bring the graveyard under its formal control.
Under the terms of the Public Health (Ireland) Act of 1878 local authorities were able to take control of graveyards ‘not attached or contiguous to any place of worship nor situate in a private demesne’ if it was in the public interest. First of all the council had to find out who actually owned the graveyard by issuing a notice in a local newspaper. No claimant to the ownership of Grange graveyard came forward and at the Council meeting on 8 July 1930 it was agreed that William Rankin JP, Council Chairman, and Miss Ballantine, one of the councillors, should undertake to have the burial ground tidied up.
Rankin was from Creaghcor, a townland close to the graveyard and Grange was his own family’s place of sepulture. He himself was buried in Grange in April 1939. On 14 April 1931 Dr R. D. McLean, medical officer for the district of Dunnamanagh, reported to the Council that Grange graveyard was both overcrowded and neglected. He recommended that the graveyard be closed to further burials excepts where reservations had been made. The Council decided not to take any action at this time as they could not afford to provide a new graveyard for the area at this time.
In 1934 the matter of Grange Graveyard again came before the Council and on 10 July it was unanimously agreed to close it. Concerns about the lack of alternative facilities for burial in the area meant that there was some delay in issuing the closing order. However, on 10 September 1935 the Council decided to accept Robert Scott’s offer of 1½ acres for a graveyard at Mountcastle. Eventually an order was issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs that Grange Graveyard was to be closed from 1 January 1938.