Northern Ireland news

Hidden heritage of Belfast City Cemetery to be explored with £1.68m lottery grant

Belfast City Cemetery Fountain. Picture by Belfast City Council/ HLF

THE hidden heritage of Belfast's first municipal cemetery is to be explored with the help of a £1.68 million lottery grant.

Important historic features of Belfast City Cemetery, including the central steps and Victorian fountains, will be restored as part of the project.

Opened in 1869, the cemetery has a wealth of historic features, monuments and memorials, with the graves and tombs of many prominent industrial figures and pioneers of education and social justice found at the west Belfast site.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant will enable Belfast City Council to install new signage to raise awareness of the hidden heritage of the cemetery and a dedicated programme of live events, tours and workshops will be organised to attract more visitors.

Native shrubs and trees will be planted to improve the biodiversity of the area and a new visitor and education space will be developed to provide a hub for exhibitions and events.

Paul Mullan of the HLF said: "We often think of cemeteries as places for the dead, but our parks and cemeteries provide vital connections to our history, our community and our natural heritage and are also very much for the living.

"Thanks to National Lottery players this grant will support vital restorations right across this extraordinary cemetery; saving monuments at risk and maximising its potential as a green space for people to visit, use and enjoy."

Jim Rodgers of Belfast City Council said the funding "will allow us to ensure the unique heritage of this part of the city is protected for future generations".

"By developing the site, we will be opening it up for people to explore and discover more about Belfast's history, which has been something of a hidden gem at City Cemetery."

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