The cemetery was constructed to replace the old Abbey churchyard and was opened in August, 1870. A one and a half acre extension to the main burial grounds was laid out in 1966.
At the north end of the main avenue sits the Eglinton Family vaults. These have been in use since 1886 and thirteen interments have taken place, the last being the Lady Dowager Countess in 1988. Before coming into use, the Eglinton family were interred within the Abbey grounds. Several vaults were discovered here in 1930, but these were demolished in the clearance of the cloisters in 1961. Then, another came to light but this too had to be demolished, being unsafe.
Also in the cemetery is the grave of Antonio Escazio who died in 1872, a servant of Mathew Brown of the nearby Monkcastle House for 43 years. The 'Black Man's path' ran from the house to Old Monkcastle, and Antonio is said to have walked this route regularly. It is not known when he was born or which country he came from, however San Antonio de Escazu is a town in Costa Rica. The grave indicates the high level of respect the family had for him.
The War Memorial, built of Creetown granite, stands close to the road within the cemetery, and has the names of 115 of the fallen from World War I and 67, including two women, from World War II. Originally, it stood at the entrance gate in McGavin Park but was removed to its present site in 1948.
A figure representing Wendy, one of the characters in Peter Pan in the form of a fountain, used to stand by a small pond here, but the area has been re-landscaped to a much simpler style, the pond has been removed, and the statue's whereabouts are unknown.
In 2005, the memorial won the Large Community Category in a Royal British Legion competition, and a marble plaque commemorates the award.
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