Concern over new Cork graveyard bylaws

The dead will be “discriminated against” in some parts of Cork if new graveyard bylaws are adopted by the county council.

A clause in the draft bylaws states relatives will not be allowed to erect Celtic cross headstones for their loved ones in cemeteries other than those in the council’s municipal districts of Kanturk-Mallow and Fermoy.

Under the draft bylaws, a maximum height for headstones throughout the county will be set at 1.2 metres.

But an exception will be made in the case of a Celtic cross once it does not exceed 2.44 metres in height — but only if it’s in the above mentioned north Cork areas.

Councillors in north Cork previously fought for their cemeteries to be allowed to continue with the centuries-old tradition of erecting Celtic crosses.

But it appears the bylaw alteration was not spotted by their counterparts in other areas — until this week.

A West Cork-based councillor has said he will lead a fight, “tooth and nail”, against the bylaw describing it as discrimination against people of the coastal region.

“We have always had Celtic crosses in graveyards in West Cork. This bylaw makes it sound as if our people are not as patriotic as our neighbours in north Cork,” said Fianna Fáil’s Joe Carroll.“This cannot be allowed to happen.”

The bylaws were piloted in north Cork with the view to finally making them definitive across the entire county — mainly to make it easier to maintain ‘uniformed grassed cemeteries’.

When first mooted four years ago, there was uproar again in West Cork when council officials insisted gravediggers — who had proper training and insurance — would be the only the people allowed to dig a plot.

However, following uproar among undertakers in West Cork and elected local representatives, council officials promised to row back on the clause. However, the issue has emerged again in the latest transcript, much to the annoyance of Cllr Carroll who thought the clause had been buried, so to speak.

“This is a major issue in West Cork. For centuries it has been a tradition for relatives and neighbours to dig a grave for the deceased.

“People will be very upset about this if it is allowed to go through and I intend that it won’t,” the Skibbereen-based councillor added.

He was also concerned about another clause which plans to ban wrought-iron creations from being erected around grave plots.

“There has been some beautiful wrought-iron work put up in graves in my region and, years on, it still looks very nice. I can’t see why this should be banned as well. It’s also a tradition in some areas,” he said.

Cllr Carroll raised the issue at a meeting in County Hall but was told by county mayor Cllr John Paul O’Shea the matter should be raised at a meeting of the West Cork municipal district.

“I fully intend to do this and I’m sure my colleagues will support me,” said Cllr Carroll.


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