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Cemeteries

Knock burial ground

  • Location and opening hours

    Location

    Knockmount Park
    Belfast
    BT5 6GR 

    Opening hours

    By appointment only. To arrange an appointment call 028 9027 0296 or email cemeteries@belfastcity.gov.uk.

  • Access information

    Take Metro 18 from Belfast city centre. There is limited car parking available in the lay-by near the main cemetery gates. There are four steep steps into Knock Burial Ground. Access is limited for wheelchair users or those with walking difficulties due to very uneven ground. 

  • About the cemetery

    Knock Burial Ground is one of the most ancient sites in Belfast. The land itself is believed to date back to at least the 13th century, while the graveyard became public property in 1896. 

    Burials no longer take place at the site, which is enclosed by a high stone wall. It contains 18th century headstones inscribed with the names of local townlands such as Ballyhackamore, Ballymacarrett, Bloomfield, Castlereagh, Dunover, Gilnahirk, Knock, Mountpottinger and Tullycarnet. 

    Although these areas lie within Belfast today, they were once regarded as countryside and farmland. 

    The oldest gravestone in Knock Burial Ground dates from 1644. Other more recent headstones refer to those killed in World War I, for example, Privates J Corbett and Henry Best who were killed in action at Dunkirk on 28 May 1940. 

  • History

    Knock Burial Ground is located on top of a hill overlooking Belfast, which explains its name - the Gaelic word 'cnoc' means 'hill’ in English. 

    A church at Knock, known as Dundela, passed from the Anglo-Normans to the Clandeboye O’Neills in the 13th century. The taxation of 1306 shows that it was valued at 40 shillings at the time. A traveller, writing in the 16th century, later referred to a church dedicated to St Columba, sometimes called Knock Columkille, on the site. 

    By 1622, Knock Columkille was transformed for Anglican worship and used until 1637 when it was abandoned in favour of a new parish church, now known as Knockbreda, in the nearby townland of Breda. The money to build the church came from Lady Middleton who lived in Belvoir Park and was a member, by marriage, of the Hill family. 

    The 'union' between Knock and Breda was completed in 1657 during the time of Oliver Cromwell but it was almost 100 years before the church was completed in 1737. Although an engraving in the Dublin Penny Journal of 1834 shows two ruined gable walls within the cemetery's modern boundaries, there are no visible remains of Knock Columkille today. 

    The extension of Belfast's boundary in 1896 brought Knock Burial Ground under the control of Belfast Corporation (now the council). All the plots had been allocated by this time and only the reopening of some graves was permitted. In 1905, a caretaker was employed to look after the graveyard. 

  • Famous burials

    William Nichol (1794-1840), a Belfast-born painter whose works were exhibited in the Ulster Museum, is buried in the cemetery. His brother Andrew, who was also a painter, is believed to be buried in London.

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