The Church of the Holy Evangelists, Carnmoney, was one of a number of churches in Connor Diocese which took part in the recent European Heritage Open Days programme.
The weekend went very well with more than 60 visitors coming to view the Church and surrounding graveyard. Amongst them was the Mayor of Newtownabbey Alderman Nigel Hamilton. Alderman Hamilton was impressed by the history of Church and cemetery and paid particular attention to the headstone of the McKinney family. This marks the grave of the original Mckinney who came from Scotland in the early 1700s and established a homestead at Sentry Hill – a remarkable 19th century farmhouse at Ballycraigy in the Parish of Carnmoney which has been opened as a history museum.
There are many famous families represented in the grave yard – the Mayor was interested to learn of a former Mayor of Belfast's association with the Church – Sir Charles Lanyon, one of the greatest figures in Belfast's architectural heritage, also engineer and politician, had been on the vestry of Carnmoney Parish Church. The Grimshaws, famed for their linen mills, are buried in the graveyard – Nicolas Grimshaw brought the first cotton twist mills to Belfast in the mid 1700s and established mills at Carrickfergus, Greencastle and Mossley.
A magnificent Celtic cross marks the resting place of General William James Smythe (1816-1887), son of Samuel Smythe former vicar of Carnmoney. William joined the Royal Artillery at the age of 17, served in the Kaffir War of 1835 and had 37 years of service in Fiji and India before retiring to Tobercooran House, Glengormley.
Following his visit during the Heritage Open Day, the Mayor of Newtownabbey has taken up the cause for the graveyard and is investigating ways of assisting with the restoration and repair of what is an essential part of the history of Newtownabbey.