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Clifton Street Cemetery is to be opened to the public

By Linda Stewart

Published 29/06/2016

Henry Joy McCracken
Henry Joy McCracken

A historic Belfast graveyard where republicans, unionists, prostitutes, clergymen, murderers and an escaped slave were laid to rest is to be opened up to the public.

Clifton Street Cemetery has been largely locked up for many years due to anti-social behaviour, and its heritage is relatively unknown - even though it is the final resting place of United Irishman Henry Joy McCracken and his sister, anti-slavery campaigner Mary Ann McCracken.

Now a project to open it so the stories of those buried there can be told is under way with the help of a £20,800 Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant.

The cash will be used by the Friends of Clifton Street Cemetery to allow access to the burial ground for part of the year.

Clifton Street graveyard opened in 1797 and was managed by the Belfast Charitable Society.

Head of HLF Northern Ireland Paul Mullan said: "We are delighted that National Lottery players' money is helping to open up this historic space."

Project co-ordinator Joe Baker added: "It will be fantastic to see this cemetery opened for the people of Belfast and further afield to enjoy. There is so much history contained in this place that it is beyond belief."

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