The Catholic portion of the West Terrace Cemetery is the largest of the non-public portions of the Cemetery. It was administered by the Roman Catholic Church from its creation up until the passage of the West Terrace Cemetery Act (No. 57 of 1976), when it and other independent portions were handed back to the State Government. The West Terrace Cemetery is now administered by the West Terrace Cemetery Committee of the Public Buildings Department which reports to the Minister of Public Works.
The initial portion of the Cemetery was given to the Church in March 1845 following a letter by Bishop Murphy of the 18th January, 1845, to the Governor requesting a portion for the exclusive use of Roman Catholics. This portion comprised 41/2 acres and is the area known as The Blocks surrounding the Mortuary Chapel. The request for a portion of the public cemetery for exclusive use of Roman Catholics was probably motivated by an earlier grant of land to the Hebrew Congregation in 1843.
The first burial in the Cemetery was on the 12th April, 1845 . The Cemetery was formally consecrated on the 25th January, 1846, by .Bishop Murphy
In 1871 a Mortuary Chapel was built to the memory of the late Very Rev. Dr. John Smyth, Vicar General, who had died on the 30th June, 1870, and who lies buried in the crypt beneath the Chapel. The Chapel was formally consecrated on the 22nd October 1871 . It was designed by E.J.Woods (who also designed the Town Hall and St. Francis Xavier's Cathedral) and built by Messrs. Peters and Jones at a cost of £497-14-0 ($995.40). The Chapel is on the State Heritage List. The Chapel was extensively restored by a grant from the National Trust in late 1979. The only other building that stood in the Cemetery was a square brick and stone building in the north-east corner, but this was demolished in about 1977
In 1871 the Catholic Cemetery was granted £80 ($160) by the State Government for the forming of a road from its eastern entrance to West Terrace to provide a suitable entrance to the Cemetery with the construction of the Mortuary Chapel.
By the late nineteenth century the Cemetery was nearly full and the Church needed additional land. On the 4th March, 1898 , the Archbishop wrote to the Commissioner of Public Works for an extension. On the 10th June the Government arranged a Grant of land 340 feet by 90 feet on the eastern boundary and further strips of land on the southern boundary was transferred from the Society of Friends and Hebrew Congregation cemetery portions extended the life of the Cemetery.
In May 1904 the Government sold to the Catholic Church a further three roods, twenty perches for £300 ($600). In August the same year a small strip was purchased from the Society of Friends for £30 ($60). In September 1910 there was a further Land Grant of 20 acres, 2 roods, 20 perches for £900 ($1800). The Cemetery was again extended in September 1922 by 2 roods 38 perches at a cost of £1000 ($2000) and in September 1927 a further 1 acre 1 rood and 2 perches for £1700 ($3400). All these extensions gradually extended the Cemetery's western boundary to its present position adjacent to the railway line.
A consolidated Land Grant (Vol. 1616 Folio 60) was issued by the Commissioner of Crown Lands on the 26th June, 1933 , for the total land area of the Cemetery, which by that time was 11 acres, 3 roods, 32 perches.
© 1984 Andrew G Peake