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Bringing the city together for cemetery tours

Published: Tue, 17 Jan 2017
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Seamus Breslin plans to run guided cemetery tours later this year.
Seamus Breslin
A Creggan man plans to attract people from all communities to Derry City Cemetery when he begins running guided tours there later this year.
Seamus Breslin has received funding from our Social Housing Enterprise Programme to get his walking tours project off the ground.
He said people from both communities are buried in the cemetery, which is located between the Creggan and Bogside areas of the city, adding:
“I’m hoping when we get the walking tours started this summer that everyone will feel welcome and they will discover the wonderful stories attached to this historical graveyard.”
Seamus’ interest in the cemetery began while studying his Masters degree. He was working on a project about the First World War and discovered many servicemen were buried in the local graveyard.
He teamed up with local historian Trevor Temple, who is from the Fountain area, and set up ‘Friends of Derry City Cemetery’.
Seamus explained:
“We began taking tours on a voluntary basis and could see the potential to turn the walking tours into a social enterprise while at the same time opening up cemetery and regenerating the local area.
“There are so many interesting people buried there from the Edwardian and Victorian eras to World War veterans to Bloody Sunday victims to the lyricist, Cecil Frances Alexander who wrote the hymn, All Things Bright and Beautiful.
“We have lots of fascinating stories to tell and we believe tourists from abroad will also be interested in the cemetery. We already have lots of international followers on our social media sites.
“Tourism will bring money into this area and once the business is up- and- running we plan to employ more people, which will be of great benefit as unemployment is high in this area.
“So far we have received a lot of local support including from schools who are keen to organise trips and from the council. However, the Housing Executive was the first organisation to give us practical help and that is what we needed to get this project off-the-ground.
“We are very grateful to the social investment team for giving us this grant to get uniforms, flyers and publicity material prepared. Now, hopefully other funders will come on board and we’ll be taking our first paid tours this summer.”
Paul Carland, our Social Enterprise Liaison Manager, said:
“We are delighted to support this initiative which will help to regenerate this area and improve the employability of local people living in this community. We have provided funding and helped this new business set up links with a social enterprise hub and other organisations.”
The Social Housing Enterprise scheme, launched in 2015, aims to develop economically vibrant and self-sustaining communities through the creation and development of social housing enterprises.
For more information on the scheme and how to apply for an award, go to our website.