Derry City Cemetery


A visitor to Derry City Cemetery will find the history of Derry~Londonderry all around them – literally written in stone.

By the middle years of the 19th century it was clear that the city’s graveyards, attached to churches, were becoming overcrowded. From 1 January 1867 the graveyards attached to St. Columb’s Cathedral, St. Augustine’s Church and Long Tower Chapel were closed to new burials, with ‘access’ restricted to those families with rights to graves. 

The City Cemetery was opened in 1853. It is the property of Derry City Council. People buying a grave do not own the grave but simply have the right to burial in it. The first reported burial here is that of Robert McClelland, a 10-month-old child of Orchard Street, who died 10 December 1853.

Joseph Bigger, died 12 January 1854, was the first adult buried in the Cemetery (His grandson, David, was Superintendant of the City Cemetery and actually lived in the Gatelodge). Today there are over 74,594 burials – an average of 400 per year. 

The City Cemetery became the main burial place for both Protestants and Catholics in the city. However, from the 1970s and the onset of ‘the troubles’, Protestant families increasingly buried their dead in the Waterside, at the Altnagelvin (opened in 1963) and Ballyoan (opened in 1991) cemeteries.


For further information visitors can contact the staff of the cemetery or read ‘Derry City Cemetery 1853-2003

– 150 Years’ by Rev. Bernard J Canning.

Derry City Cemetery