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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

ANBCouncil urged to recognise 'historical importance' of Co Antrim graveyard

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council has received a request to officially recognise the historical importance of a graveyard in Ballyclare.

Two Commonwealth War Graves and the graves of rhyming weaver poet Thomas Beggs and inventor and entrepreneur John Rowan are located at Ballylinney Old Graveyard, councillors have been told.

Ballylinney Old Burying Committee has asked the council to consider how it could support this area of “historical significance” within the borough.

In a report to the council’s Operations Committee, it is proposed the local authority explores how Ballylinney Old Burying Committee can be “further supported in developing heritage and tourism”.

It is proposed initial support will include the council’s parks service undertaking tasks such as grass cutting, tree and other relevant grounds maintenance on an ongoing basis.

Ballylinney Old Burying Committee will retain responsibility for burials.

Councillors have been told previously there is a mix of cemetery arrangements in the borough – those owned, developed and operated by the council, a number which are maintained by the authority which also has responsibility for burial and a small number for which only maintenance is provided.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission says the heritage value of the “historic estate” must be preserved for future generations and it must be “sustainably managed” and “look cared for”.

Ballylinney Old Graveyard has casualties from both World Wars. They are Second Lieutenant James Millikin, Royal Air Force, who died on December 31, 1918, aged 26 and Sergeant Robert Laird, Royal Army Service Corps, who died on November 23, 1944, aged 44.

Also buried there is poet Thomas Beggs (1789-1847) who was employed in a bleachworks in Ballyclare. HIs first book ‘Miscellaneous Pieces in Verse’ was published in 1819. This was followed by ‘Rathlin’ the following year and then ‘The Rhyming Pedagogue’. He also published ‘The Memento, a Choice Variety of Original Poems’ and ‘Nights in a Garrett’, a prose work.

Inventor John Rowan (1787-1858) built ploughs and other farming machinery as well as a steam-powered road vehicle. The linen spinner and engineer opened the Doagh Foundry. He is remembered at a memorial in Doagh village.


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