Personal memorabilia such as photographs of loved ones, teddy bears and floral tributes will be removed from county council-managed cemeteries if new bylaws are enforced, writes Sean O’Riordan.
Under the bylaws, it will not be permissible to surround burial plots with kerbing in publicly-managed sites designated as “lawned cemeteries”.
The proposed Cork County Council bylaws also state no shrubs or flowers can be planted on plots in its cemeteries.
Also, any flowers and wreaths placed on graves after burials must be removed by relatives within a period of two months, otherwise council staff can remove and dispose of them without any prior notice.
The regulations could lead to the council being on a collision course with grieving families.
Council officials have been told they will have to act “sensitively” if they are to proceed with enforcing the bylaws, especially in cases where families have erected kerbed “shrines” to people who have died in tragic circumstances.
The proposed clampdown by the local authority was disclosed at a meeting of a municipal district council in North Cork.
Affected graveyards include 15 in the West Cork area such as St Finbarr’s in Dunmanway, Bere Island, Durrus, Rossmore, and Schull.
In the Glanmire/Cobh municipal district, the Curraghkippane Graveyard, Blarney, St Joseph’s Graveyard, Little Island and the new extension at Dunbullogue Graveyard, Carrignavar will have bans on kerbing.
In the Ballincollig/Carrigaline Municipal District, lawned cemeteries include St Oliver’s Ballincollig, St James’s at Chetwynd, which is near the Viaduct on the Bandon Road, and new sections at the graveyards in Ringaskiddy and Passage West are also included.
The meeting was told that enforcement would be undertaken at Kilcrumper New Cemetery, Fermoy.
A report by council officials said that a recent survey undertaken at the cemetery showed that 136 plots were not in compliance, 72 of which were in the most recently opened section.
Officials advised councillors that it is the council’s intention to enforce these bylaws and ensure that “all plots” in that cemetery are compliant with it being a lawned cemetery.
They have said notification signs will be placed in these designated cemeteries requesting families to remove kerbing and re-grass the plot.
In the case of Kilcrumper cemetery, officials said that, from October onwards, council staff will be instructed to carry out this work if it is not done by families.
Fianna Fáil councillor Frank O’Flynn advised officials that they “should tread very carefully”.
“We have to treat this very sensitively,” he said. “We don’t want to upset families.”
He asked officials to report back on what cemeteries would be earmarked for enforcement and if families had been informed of the bylaws when they purchased plots.
Officials said they would check on this and inform him at the next municipal district meeting, which is not scheduled until September.
Fianna Fáil councillor Ian Doyle said it appeared the council did not have the manpower to maintain cemeteries.
Officials admitted it is far easier to maintain lawned cemeteries because one man with a lawnmower can usually get them mown in a day.
A council spokeswoman said there were a large number of burial grounds in their control now labelled as lawned cemeteries.
Extensions to some older cemeteries may also be affected by a ban on kerbing.
The council is completing a full list of affected cemeteries which will be made public shortly.
This article first appeared on the Irish Examiner.