Construction begins on new state-of-the-art visitor centre at Belfast City Cemetery
CONSTRUCTION has begun on a new £2.3m state-of-the-art visitor centre at Belfast City Cemetery.
The cemetery, which sits at the junction of the Falls and Whiterock roads in west Belfast, is regarded as one of city's most historically significant sites.
Dating back to the 1860s, some of its most influential figures buried there include among others Edward Harland and Victorian activist and educationalist Margaret Byers.
The project, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Belfast City Council, will ensure current and future generations are able to access and understand its fascinating history.
Alongside the new visitor centre, the cemetery’s listed assets are being restored, new interpretive signs installed and technology introduced to help visitors navigate the vast site.
A comprehensive activity programme is also being developed to attract more visitors in future through guided tours, schools programmes, workshops and events.
Lord Mayor of Belfast Frank McCoubrey said: "There is a wealth of history and heritage within the walls of city cemetery so I’m delighted to see work getting underway on the new visitor centre.
"It will be key to attracting more visitors and transforming how people interact with the cemetery, helping to unlock its many stories.
"The new centre will be a flexible space, acting as a welcome area, an interpretive centre and an education space.
"Alongside traditional interpretive displays, digital information points will provide insights into the history of the site and the notable figures who are buried there.
"Workstations will also be installed to help people research their genealogy, while an indoor and outdoor educational space will help open up the site’s rich heritage to schools and youth groups in the years ahead."
Mukesh Sharma from the National Lottery Heritage Fund in Northern Ireland said he hoped the project will "strengthen the community by helping local people better understand their heritage and help others discover their own".
"Belfast City Cemetery is rich in heritage and this new visitor centre will help to preserve the many unique stories of its past, whilst also ensuring a wide range of people can access and understand its history," he said.
Meanwhile, Mid and East Antrim borough council is urging the public to take part in a consultation on plans for a new £2.7 million cemetery in Larne.
The proposed site is located on the Old Glenarm Road adjacent to Carnfunnock Country Park and could see up to 6,000 plots.
The planning application is due to be submitted this Spring.