The story of Slans Graveyard


Slans Graveyard is a little piece of history unknown to many, which lies along the picturesque coastal route of the Ards Peninsula, between Cloughey and Kearney.

 In the depths of the countryside, not too far from Ireland’s most Easterly point, Slans Graveyard is a quiet resting spot for those that have passed away, situated within a former rath, or ringfort, an enclosure of the first millennium A.D.

Accessible by foot along a community trail, it provides exquisite panoramic views of the waters of the Irish Sea and the stretch of fine sand of Cloughey beach, which is located just one mile away. Discreetly signposted off the main Ardminnan Road, cross the stone stile leading you towards the graveyard through the fenced off trail in a field.

At one time Slans was the main graveyard for the Cloughey and Kirkistown area and the burial place for many sailors who lost their lives in the waters around the notorious North and South Rocks off Cloughey. Most of the oldest gravestones are of slate and the earliest readable date of death is 1677.

Within it are the ruins of a medieval church, which is believed to be the Church of Ardmacossce or Ardmacaisse, mentioned in the Taxation of Pope Nicholas, 1306, along with an unusual cross-carved boulder. Aerial photography has indicated that the graveyard is in fact the nucleus of a much larger enclosure, which survives below ground in the surrounding fields.

Whether you have an interest in historic sites, or are curious to explore, Slans Graveyard is a recommended stop along one of the most stunning stretches of scenery you will find.

Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Robert Adair, said “This is a lesser known spot in the Peninsula that is definitely worth a visit, for the part it plays in the area’s history and for the scenes that make the walk very worthwhile.”

For more information on Slans graveyard and the history and heritage of the Borough, see or call 028 9182 6846.

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