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Templecorran Graveyard

Introduction


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by David Hume

 

Templecorran graveyard is sited on the south side of Ballycarry village, off Main Street, and contains several interesting graves as well as the ruins of a medieval church, later used by the Church of Ireland and by early Presbyterians. The site is part of an Early Christian enclosure site, the extent of which has been viewed from aerial photographs by archaeologists, and reckoned to be the fifth largest in Northern Ireland, at 300 metres in diameter.

 

The extent of the ecclesiastical site was much greater than is encompassed by the present graveyard; the Ordnance Survey memoir of 1839 tells us that: ‘The foundations of several extensive buildings in the immediate vicinity of the church have been discovered in the graveyard and in the adjacent fields. The walls are much thicker than those of the present church, with which they were evidently connected, but as scarcely a vestige of them now remains, no idea of their plan can be formed. It may be that here stood the colleges or houses of learning from which the parish derived its name. The extent of the foundations confirms the belief that some great religious house stood here, but there is no local record or tradition to throw any light on the conjecture …’

 

The loss of the ancient history of the site with its tradition and folklore is probably due to the fact that in the 17th century the population base of the area changed completely as new settlers from England and in particular Scotland came to east Antrim during the time of the Plantation. There are few gravestones dating back to the period and little sign of the numbers who would have travelled from Scotland to the Broadisland area as it was known: they are, to all intents, largely a missing group of people. Secondly, the family which did more than any other to settle the locality, the Edmonstones of Duntreath in Stirlingshire, have no stones to commemorate them within the graveyard. The family actually had a vault within the church ruin, which has a later memorial plaque to the Fletcher family, but no mention of the most prominent and founding family of the community.

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