Graveyard set to be revamped as tourist spot

The grave of Margorie McCall in Shankill Graveyard. INLM44-136gc
The grave of Margorie McCall in Shankill Graveyard. INLM44-136gc

Graveyards can be ghoulish places for some but the historic graveyard at Shankill is set to become one of the Lurgan’s tourist attractions.

With thousands travelling to see the Pere-Lachaise Cemetery in France where icons such as Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison are buried, Craigavon Council hopes to breath a new vibrancy into graveyard which is steeped in history.

More than 11,000 people lie buried in the cemetery which is just 300 yards from the town centre.

Hundreds were buried during the two crises years of 1708 and 1713 and hundreds more died in the 1740s during almost a decade of Arctic cold, droughts, heavy rains and poor harvests. In 1847, a year when the total number of local burials amounted to 492 in Shankill Graveyard 229 were from the workhouse.

The Brownlow family, who arrived in the Lurgan area in 1610, also have a family vault in the graveyard.

One of the most famous to be buried in Shankill is Margorie McCall, a doctors’s wife, who is famed for being buried twice. From Church Place, Margorie fell ill and succumbed to a fever. She was buried quickly so as not to spread infection. Mourners tried to take her valuable ring before she was buried for fear of grave robbers but were unable to.

She was buried wearing it but grave robbers came and when they couldn’t prise the ring from her finger decided to chop it off.

Once blood was drawn Marjorie awoke from her coma and sat bolt upright wailing.

It is said one of the grave robbers dropped dead and when Marjorie walked home, her husband John is also said to have dropped dead and was later buried in the grave she recently vacated.

The council hope to erect a memorial plaque and large display in a memorial garden setting, depicting tales of the past including a map to the grounds showcasing the individual stories.