We recognise our ancient burial sites as a uniquely important cross-community cultural resource, as the resting place for those of all faiths and none. Outreach programmes will be available for disadvantaged with planned & structured visits to graveyards also be offered. Availability will be maximised for the elderly, the less able and those who are economically challenged.
These evocative haunts of ancient peace can help us understand the past, fire our imaginations and contribute to our mental well-being. We look forward to sharing the inspiring and thought-provoking tales of these places.
Some sites require significant restoration before any educational activities take place. This was the case when we embarked on restoring Friar’s Bush Cemetery from near dereliction, overgrowth and almost total wilderness!
Led by executive director Deirdre Nic an tSionnaigh, a small group started to tackle the overgrowth in a planned manner meeting a few times monthly. Starting with key monuments we planned to incorporate into our tours, de-vegetation took from January to August 2023 with a break of 6 weeks in spring and a month in summer. The amount of over-growth in those periods and all summer afterwards warranted a huge labour effort from a few directors. Clearing pathways and cutting grass to form safe pathways was essential and there was no support from the Trustee-Belfast City Council. This work continued with a more sustained weekly volunteering programme from September 2023. Currently our “Friends of Friar’s Bush” meet once or twice weekly for hard graveyard graft and supportive chat. Sharing and caring are considered to be important values in our community where volunteers, unpaid staff and team meet the challenges of working in heritage conservation on zero or shoe-string budgets with pragmatism, good humour, team work and conviviality.