Belfast’s sprawling and monumental City Cemetery, which includes a historic Jewish section, is undergoing a multi-million pound restoration and development to make it accessible — and attractive — to tourists. It will have an information, interpretive, and welcome center, as well as other facilities.
The project is to reveal the “hidden history” of the cemetery. It received £1.68 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund toward the £2.3 million project, which is to be completed in 2020.
The Jewish section of the City Cemetery was founded in the early 1870s, with the first burial, that of a stillborn baby, in 1873 and the last burial in 1964. Some 296 people are interred there.
Watch a video about the Jewish section:
The Jewish section has been subject to vandalism over the years — the Jewish cemetery was victim of a targeted attack in 2016 by a gang of up to eight youths who used hammers to smash or topple more than a dozen gravestones.
The City says the restoration and development project includes five main “strands:”
In 2015, the round synagogue on Somerton Road in Belfast, dedicated in 1964, was listed as one of the city’s historic buildings. Designed by the architectural firm Yorke, Rosenberg, Mardell, the synagogue has ceiling beams that form a star of David — see also on the roof. There is no women’s gallery, but separate raised sections for women, separated from the main part of the sanctuary by a railing.