Belfast Telegraph

Belfast graveyard book remembers ordinary people who did extraordinary things

Titanic survivors, Somme soldiers and a colourful local pharmacist who has a bar named after him are all commemorated in Dundonald cemetery.

Peter McCabe has taken a year to compile his book on Dundonald cemetery (Liam McBurney/PA)
Peter McCabe has taken a year to compile his book on Dundonald cemetery (Liam McBurney/PA)

By David Young, PA

The lives and deaths of ordinary people who did extraordinary things have been explored in a new book on an east Belfast graveyard.

Two survivors of the Titanic disaster and a Christian aid worker who spent the Second World War in a prisoner of war camp in the Far East are among those laid to rest in Dundonald Cemetery.

The site also holds the remains of Horatio Todd – a colourful pharmacist whose local repute led to a Belfast bar being named after him several decades after his death.

Those stories and almost 1,000 more have been compiled by Peter McCabe in his book on the cemetery.

There is a lot of sadness obviously around a cemetery but I look at cemeteries more as outdoor museums, it gives you a little snapshot of Dundonald or greater Belfast for the last 120 years

Mr McCabe, who previously wrote a book on the City Cemetery in west Belfast, said he hoped to encourage people to visit the site and learn more about the people who hailed from the east side of town.

“There is a lot of sadness obviously around a cemetery but I look at cemeteries more as outdoor museums, it gives you a little snapshot of Dundonald or greater Belfast for the last 120 years,” he said.

“It is important to be reverential to the graves themselves but I think it is important to look at the graves and to recognise what a lot of people who are buried were – there are a lot of ordinary people who have done extraordinary things.”

Mr McCabe, who conducts walking tours of the cemetery, said it took a year to complete the book. Its foreword was penned by East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson.

“There are a couple of survivors of the Titanic, they are both buried in unmarked graves in this cemetery,” said Mr McCabe.

“There is also the man who launched the Titanic, a man called Robert Falconer Keith.

“There is Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon here, Fleming Fulton (special school founder) and Horatio Todd is here.

“A number of guys who died on the first day of the Somme, July 1 1916, are also commemorated here, so there any amount of different people.

“CS Lewis’s life-long friend and confidante, a man called Arthur Greeves, is buried up here as well.”

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Horatio Todd’s grave in Dundonald cemetery (Liam McBurney/PA).

Mr McCabe, who is from Dundonald, said most people know little about Horatio Todd other than as the name of a popular bar and restaurant in nearby Ballyhackamore.

“Horatio Todd was quite a character,” he explained.

“He was a pharmacist and the first president of the Pharmaceutical Society for Northern Ireland. He also had an OBE and was a bird watcher. He did prescriptions for humans but he also did prescriptions for animals, he was a vet prescriber as well.

“And he was always immaculately dressed and always wore a bow tie.”

PA

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