Gothic gatehouse to Friar's Bush Cemetery, Stramillis

Friar’s Bush Cemetery is a burial site used since Medieval times up until 1869 when it was closed and the new Milltown Cemetery in West Belfast was used. It has traditionally been a Catholic cemetery and many leading Catholic citizens of Belfast were buried here in the 19th century.

Originally, a church or religious building stood on the area. A 1613 land survey describes a structure titled St Patrick’s Church of Stranmillis.

The oldest legible headstone is that of Thomas Gibson who died 1717.

The Gothic gate house and lodge was paid for by the Marquis of Donegall in 1828; he also funded the construction of permitter wall around the cemetery.

Body snatchers were known to steal cadavers for examination by medical students from the cemetery in the early 19th century but this practice ceased in 1832 when the Anatomy Act gave a legal supply of dead bodies for medical dissection and surgical practice.

Cholera and famine victims buried here from 1830s and 1840s. Many victims were interred in a mass grave known as Plaguey Hill.

Do you want to learn more about the history of Belfast? We pass this site on my Queen’s Quarter Tour!