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Donaghadee Churchyard

Famous families


Not everyone who is recorded on the stones was wealthy or important in the community, but many were. The trappings of money so conspicuously displayed in life are echoed in death. The largest tombs and the longest inscriptions are those of the family which became the lords of the soil after Thomas Montgomery died. Montgomery’s widow, Marie Angelique Delacherois, died in 1771 and bequeathed her properties in the parish to her heirs and descendants.


Their family vault under the west aisle of the church has eighteen names inscribed as being interred there. There is also a large vault-tomb nearby in the churchyard with thirteen other Delacherois family members interred in it. Other influential and landowning families made certain to record the passing of a number of their members too. The best known are the Vaughans and Leslies of Donaghadee, the Catherwoods of Ballyvester, the Nevins of Craigboy and the McMinns of Herdstown.


For anyone with a knowledge of the local history of Donaghadee and Ulster there are names which stand out on this roll of death. The Andrew Stewart who in 1687 wrote the unflattering descriptions of the people who made Donaghadee, was buried there. Grace Neill, the owner of the public house which still bears her name, was born Grace Kelly in 1818 and was buried in Donaghadee churchyard in 1916.


James Craig, or Lord Craigavon, the first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, had Donaghadee origins. Near the eastern gate of the churchyard is the grave of his grandfather, also James Craig, who died at Ballyvester in 1868.


War heroes rather incongruously have their place in Donaghadee too. There are two headstones too recent to be mentioned in the Gravestone Inscriptions book. Ten feet from Jean Mackgwear’s gravestone near the east wall of the church there stands a solitary War Commission grave, dedicated to the memory of Gunner J. C. B. Harris, a soldier in the Royal Artillery who fell in 1940 aged 27 years. Around the corner, on the south side of the churchyard is the grave of 21-year-old Lt. William Kenny V.C. of the Garhwal Rifles. Inside the church is a memorial to the fallen in the Great War which is perhaps unique. In order to accommodate Lt. Kenny’s glorious death at Kot Kai in Afghanistan in a known war, it uniquely dates the First World War as lasting from 1914 until 1920.

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