Heartbreak as headstones in historic NI graveyard vandalised

Dozens of headstones in an historic NI graveyard have been badly damaged in a vandalism rampage.

Thursday, 20th May 2021, 10:48 am

The gravestones, some dating back hundreds of years, have been toppled, cracked or broken completely in the Church of Ireland graveyard in Shankill, Lurgan.

Friends of Shankill Graveyard stalwart Isobel Hylands said: “It is with a heavy heart that I have to report further desecration in the Graveyard last weekend. More headstones damaged, metal surrounds pulled out and broken and the covers of some plots badly damaged.

“We have been told by local residents that a group of young teenagers are meeting regularly in the Graveyard at evenings and weekends.

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Vandals wreck graves in an historic cemetery in Lurgan.

“I would appeal to all parents to check where their teenage children are and what they’re doing.

“There have been some casualties in graveyards where headstones have fallen on a young person.

“The headstones in the Graveyard are regularly checked for stability, but if a headstone is deliberately toppled anyone can be seriously hurt.

“We have spoken to the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council’s Cemeteries Manager and he is aware of the damage and advised he’d reported it.

Vandals wreck graves in an historic cemetery in Lurgan.

“We also reported the damage to our local police and they responded immediately and have again assured us of their full co-operation.

“We are asking our local Councillors to use their best efforts to encourage Council officers to speed up their efforts and work with us on a more timely basis so that hopefully we can put measures in place to ensure that no more of our history and heritage is wantonly destroyed.”

Sinn Fein Cllr Liam Mackle said: ““I utterly condemn this attack on graves in Shankill Graveyard, the first within two years and after much work by the Council and police to make this historic site secure.

“This graveyard is of massive historic significance including the legend of Margorie McCall who ‘Lived Once Died Twice’ and also the final resting place of individuals whose families are now upset that this mindless attack still happened.”

Vandals wreck graves in an historic cemetery in Lurgan.

Councillor Mackle added: “Anyone with information about this attack should immediately bring it to the police.”

A PSNI spokesperson said: “Significant damage has been caused to headstones/cast iron surrounds/grave coverings.

“Graveyards are not playgrounds, and the damage to the graves has the potential to cause distress to a lot of families.

“As well as the damage, there is a danger of injury to those visiting the graves.

Vandals wreck graves in an historic cemetery in Lurgan.

“Parents please know where your children are, and if necessary have a chat about the dangers highlighted above.”

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