of Christ The Redeemer is Lurgan's most recognizable
landmark. This Church Of
Ireland, gothic building is situated in Church
Place, in the centre of Lurgan and can be
seen miles away from the town.
The original church was sited in Shankill
Graveyard, which is half a mile from the present
The old church became too small for the congregation
and had fell into dilapidation.
So in the
early 18th century a new church was built in "The
site of Shankill graveyard itself and the old
church has historic importance dating to
It is also known that there was a Mediaeval
church here which was probably destroyed
in the "Nine
years War" at the end of the 16th Century.
Church of Christ the Redeemer, Lurgan
William Roulston (Ulster Historical
that in the early 17th Century the land was granted
the church as a place of worship for the influx of
English settlers during the plantation. The most
dominant feature in the churchyard is the Brownlow
Mausoleum where "the most noble family of Abercorn" are
Not surprisingly, the graveyard has changed several
times and the earliest legible headstone today dates
back to April 1690.
Kieran Glendinning has written
a considerable number of documents about this
he talks to Mary Ferris about the Brownlows and
some of the other families who are buried here.
fascinating story of one Margorie
a woman who's famed in these parts for having
been buried twice!
Mary spoke next to Mrs Greer. The Greers, who
were formerly the McGregors, were proscribed in their
native Scotland and settled in Cumbria. They came
to Northern Ireland during the plantation - originally
to Dungannon and Moy - and then to Lurgan in 1757
where they bought the family home at Woodville which
stands today. Mrs Greer who continues to live in
the family home has plotted the family tree which
is so complex she used a roll of wallpaper to write
it on! She tells Mary Ferris of how her recent ancestors
were involved in both Whiskey and Linen...
Woolsey Gracey is the archivist at the Church of
Ireland and has a great understanding of local history
The archived records go back to 1675. He shows us
the minutes of a vestry meeting just after the first
church on the site was built in 1725. Many of those
whose signatures appear on the document are buried
outside in the churchyard. One of them is Rev Arthur
Ford who was rector in the parish for twenty years.
He insisted in his will that he would be buried in
the North end of the graveyard in a bid to dispel
an old superstition that the Northern end was 'unholy
ground' and only for paupers.
Particularly interesting are the records Woolsey
holds of the deaths and burials during the period
of the famine, which was at its worst in 1847. Charles
Brownlow, first Baron of Lurgan died of Typhus whilst
helping the poor and needy of the town.
John Neill, a member of the congregation is a solicitor
for the firm which is responsible for the Brownlow
estate. He tells how his recent ancestors raised
funds to buy new bells for the church.
Gerard McAtasney is the author of the book "This
dreadful visitation" which recounts stories surrounding
the famine in the Lurgan and Portadown area. He tells
us how the Shankill graveyard had more burials than
any other graveyard in Ireland at that time.
in the workhouses were appalling and many new recruits
were brought in and given clothing left behind
by those who had died of disease. The
survival rate was dismally low.
The workhouse graveyard was bursting. Often there
were 5 bodies to one coffin and up to 30 bodies to
a grave. When it eventually overflowed, a 'paupers
pit' was opened in the Shankill graveyard. These
would have been unmarked graves.
height of the famine there were 492 burials in
Shankill which included 233 'workhouse burials',
workhouse death-rate in Ireland.
really knows whereabouts in the Shankill graveyard the
workhouse bodies are buried.