Beggars Bush: A Perambulation through the Disciplines of History, Geography, Archaeology, Literature, Philology, Natural History, Botany, Biography & Beggary

Belfast, Ireland Beggars Bush 1863

Although there is a record of this place name it is an error. It appears likely to be a mistranscription by the reporter, in Belfast, or mistake by the typesetter, in Cork (where there is a Beggars Bush). There is no other record of the name and that the entry is clearly an error for Friars Bush, a Catholic graveyard referred to elsewhere in the article. The fact that it happened is evidence that the phrase was known in Cork and common enough not to alert the user to the error.

The Cork Examiner, 20 October 1863, in an article headlined “Pestilent Burying-Grounds in Belfast” reported “extraordinary disclosures” made at the meeting of the Town Council of Belfast on Wednesday last with reference to the state of the burying grounds in that town. These included a memorial presented from the house-holders of Malone district, and in which they stated that “beggar’s-bush grave-yard, close to the Botanic- gardens, which separate it from the Queen’s College, was overcrowded more than 20 years ago, and that since that time probably 20,000 corpses have been deposited in it ; that coffins [are] constantly deposited almost on the surface, old coffins and the putrefying remains of corpses are continually dug up and burnt, by which noisome and dangerous effluvia are produced, generating fever of a malignant type, which was spreading rapidly.”


Trevor Parkhill, Keeper of History, National Museums Northern Ireland
Dr Eamon Phoenix, Principal in History, Stranmillis University College
Dennis Ahern

Posted: April 24th, 2011 | Filed under: Places | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

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