By Eoin Kelleher
“GROTESQUE” monuments which breach cemetery rules, overshadowing nearby headstones, along with night-time “illicit activities” in Cashel’s Cormac Cemetery, are causing people to avoid visiting their loved ones out of fear and intimidation.
Councillors at this month’s meeting of the Town Council, said cars are going into the Cemetery late at night, and heard that at least three structures erected there in recent times breach local bye-laws. Raising the matter, Cllr Séan McCarthy said there’s been a “lot of disquiet about the graveyard. It’s open to vehicular traffic. There’s a lot of illicit activity, cars going in and out by people of a certain ilk.”
Some people had erected “grotesque” statues that were “against regulations”. “It’s a concern to many families who have deceased loved ones there. I would suggest just having pedestrian access, and look at locking the graveyard at night.”
Cllr Joe Moloney said it’s “high time we took a stand. We’ve been speaking about this for about five or six years now. It’s open at night, and the vehicles that are going in there, are unreal. We have to protect the graveyard.”
Cllr Eddie Bennett said it’s “something we’ve been preaching for years.” The problem has caused divisions years ago, he added, when the subject of cemetery bye-laws was discussed by members. A committee set up to draft new cemetery by-laws will have a report in the coming months, said Town Clerk Marie McGivern.
Cllr Dan Dillon said: “It’s a problem we’ve swept under the carpet. Some people have no respect for property.” Cllr Dillon pointed out that the County Council had been due to issue a report on graveyard bye-laws “for the last four years.” “We are still waiting for it. In this day and age, it shouldn’t take so long to come up with a solution, or proposals we could enforce.”
The bye-laws should be enforced evenly, he said. “People are nearly afraid to go up to the graveyard”, and some of the monuments in breach of regulations are turning it into the “most gaudy” place in the cemetery. “A bit of respect needs to be instilled in these people, for the place where people who mourn their loved ones.”
Cllr Dillon suggested getting a lock for the gate and closing the graveyard to traffic. “If you go to other towns, they’re locked 24 hours a day. It’s not a million miles to walk up there. Most people in Cashel will obey the bye-laws. If the Council says you are not entitled to do it, they will respect the bye-laws.”
Cllr Bennett added: “I would support that. Enough is enough. It’s a terrible situation. I know how upsetting it is to see it desecrated.” Older people in particular were being intimidated and upset by what was happening. “The lack of respect is really disgraceful.”
Cllr PJ Quinlan said they had to formulate some idea of what’s acceptable in terms of monument size. “Some people have spent E25,000 on graves alone.” Cllr Quinlan pointed to the military cemeteries where there was some uniformity in terms of headstones.
Cllr Martin Browne, whose father died recently, said he had more reason now to visit the cemetery. “It’s becoming an eyesore. It’s not nice to see loved ones buried under statues. It’s a place that should be tranquil and peaceful, not something you’d see from the road,” said Cllr Browne, referring to the size of some of the monuments.
Councillors agreed that Cormac’s Cemetery would be closed at all times, except for funerals, and for pedestrians and wheelchair users. Cllr Dan Dillon was told there were three structures which were not in compliance with regulations. These had been built recently. Cllr Sean McCarthy was told the new rule blocking vehicular access was “effective immediately.”