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Mayor pays tribute to ‘incredible’ volunteers from ‘City Cemetery Records’ project

02 November 2018

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr John Boyle has hosted a special recognition event in the Guildhall in appreciation of the ‘incredible’ work of 48 community volunteers who transcribed over 70 years of burial records in conjunction with the Tower Museum and the City Cemetery.

In 2016, the Tower Museum archive team called on members of the public to help preserve and record the valuable burial registers of Derry City Cemetery by contributing to an exciting new database holding the historic burial records.

The cemetery records, which date from 1853, chart the information of all those buried in the cemetery up until 1924. The records are an invaluable historical resource detailing not only the names of those buried in the cemetery, but also their age, place of birth and who their parents were, amongst other important genealogical information which allows a glimpse into their daily lives.

Importantly, for people trying to trace their ancestry, they also reveal the location of graves within the large City Cemetery site. All of the records have now been transcribed and Council also launched the freely accessible online database at the special recognition event in the Guildhall.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr John Boyle said: “I am delighted to pay tribute to the incredible work of the volunteers from the ‘City Cemetery Records’ project.

“Indeed, as a result of their outstanding work on this project they have been nominated for a prestigious ‘Heritage Angel Award’ at the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society’s awards ceremony which will be held in the Guildhall on Tuesday night – 6th November.

“Since the project began in May 2016, an amazing ‘48’ volunteers helped to transcribe and verify over 30,000 entries from the Cemetery’s Burial Registers. Following dedicated training, the volunteers were able to complete the work from their own homes, using their unique local knowledge of surnames and street names to turn seemingly illegible 150 year-old handwriting into a powerful genealogical tool.”

Ronan McConnell, Education Officer at the Tower Museum added: “We are delighted that the volunteers have been nominated for a ‘Heritage Angel Award’ for their fantastic contribution.

“Indeed, the most important aspect of this project was that it was carried out by the local community. The cemetery reflects the story of the community and it’s only fitting that we should pay tribute to those who carried out such momentous work.

“It really has been an incredible experience to witness here in the Council’s Museum Service – and shows the amazing power volunteers can have in helping to promote our wonderful local heritage.

“We have more work to do, and we look forward to carrying that out, but in the meantime we wish all the volunteers the very best on Tuesday night and hope their special contribution is recognised with a prestigious Heritage Angel Award!”

For further information on the City Cemetery Records project and to access the database please visit 

http://www.derrystrabane.com/Subsites/Museums-and-Heritage/City-Cemetery-Records-Project

The transcription project was kindly supported by North of Ireland Family History Society (Foyle Branch), Guildhall Press and U3A (Foyle).

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