Over 260 bodies moved at ‘Laying to Rest’ service

Council chairman Mrs Joan Baird lays a wreath at the service of 'Laying to Rest' of the remains found at the old hospital site. INBL24-SERVICE1
Council chairman Mrs Joan Baird lays a wreath at the service of 'Laying to Rest' of the remains found at the old hospital site. INBL24-SERVICE1

A SPECIAL ‘Laying to Rest’ service took place on Thursday to mark the final resting place of 266 bodies which were recently moved from the former Banbridge Hospital site.

The service, which took place at the Public Cemetary and was organised by Banbridge District Council, was led by representatives from Banbridge Local Clergy Fellowship and included a wreath laying ceremony by Council Chairman, Councillor Joan Baird and Kennedy Fitzgerald Architects who were heavily involved in the onsite removal of the bodies.

Members of the Banbridge Clergy Fellowship along with Council chiarman Mrs Joan Baird and Council chief executive Liam Hannaway at the 'Laying to Rest' of remains found at the old Banbridge Hospital site. INBL24-SERVICE2

Members of the Banbridge Clergy Fellowship along with Council chiarman Mrs Joan Baird and Council chief executive Liam Hannaway at the 'Laying to Rest' of remains found at the old Banbridge Hospital site. INBL24-SERVICE2

Also in attendance were local councillors, representatives from the Southern Trust, the design team at the hospital site, archaeologists and Earney Contracts – the Trust’s onsite contractors.

These bodies were moved during excavation works as part of the Southern Health and Social Care Trust’s on-going development of the site.

Speaking after the service Councillor Baird explained that these were people who lived and worked in the old Banbridge Workhouse which opened in 1841 and operated until the site was converted into a hospital in 1932.

Councillor Baird paid tribute to all those who had been involved in the relocation of the remains, thanking them for the dignified manner in which they conducted the excavation and re-burial.

She also expressed her appreciation to Banbridge Local Clergy Fellowship for both organising and leading the service.

“We had always known that there was a burial ground within the confines of the hospital site but unfortunately the exact location was unknown,” she said.

“I am delighted that the remains of these people have now been given a final resting place where they will be disturbed no more. Today’s service was very moving and these bodies can rest in peace again.”

Southern Trust Chief Executive Mairead McAlinden said: “I am pleased that Trust staff attended the memorial service to mark the reburial of the coffins found on the former Banbridge Hospital site during the enabling works contract.

“I would like to thank the Trust’s mortuary supervisor, the funeral director and the contractor involved in the arrangements for the relocation and reburial of the coffins.

“This was dealt with in a considered and sensitive manner. I would also like to thank Banbridge District Council, specifically Councillor Joan Baird and Chief Executive Liam Hannaway, for their continued support.”

It is proposed that the enabling works will be completed by the end of July 2012 with the main contract of works commencing in April 2013.