Helen planned a visit to Co. Down and an XO Volunteer paved her way
Helen hoped to visit the resting place of her Co. Down ancestors, Alexander Stevenson and Elizabeth Rainey, and their daughter, Eliza buried at the Whitechurch Graveyard, Ballywalter. She was concerned about how to get there on landing in Belfast and hoped to be able to navigate to the right place. Thanks to Elwyn our Ahoghill Volunteer, Helen was provided not only with directions to the spot but a bus timetable of daily departures and fares!
Elwyn was also able to provide a link to some of the digitised headstones from the graveyard. The headstone Helen was looking for was available as Elwyn pointed out and there was also a map of the local area. Alexander's headstone was erected by his son Alexander in April 1847.
The graveyard is on the Dunover Road which is on the north side of the village and Elwyn suggested that she ask the bus driver to let her off at that 'stop'. According to Graveyard information available here the graveyard is very old:
The church survived the Elizabethan and Cromwelliam wars and was still in use in 1657 though with only a thatched roof. It was finally abandoned after the new church had been erected at Balligan in 1704 to serve the needs of Ballywalter, Ballyhalbert and Innishargy parishes. The old site was then used purely as a graveyard and when a new church was needed for the rising population of Ballywalter, it was built in the town (1849). The oldest gravestones are in the church but unfortunately are broken and worn. One of these has a date 1663 and the Makie stone is probably earlier. The oldest complete stone is dated 1667 (Faris) Most of the older graves are to the south of the church both inside and beyond the circular path. The Dunleath (Mulholland) enclosure is to the north of the church and most of the graves to this side date from the present century. The graveyard is well kept and has roses honeysuckle and escallonia bushes scattered around. It is open from dawn to dusk throughout the year.
"FANTASTIC Elwyn, thanks so much!"
We look forward to hearing all about your trip Helen!