A local authority’s warning to a 90-year-old bachelor to repaint his family vault has been described as “bureaucracy gone mad”.
Clare County Council has given PJ Curtin from Craggaknock, Mullagh, three weeks to repaint it or else pay for any costs incurred by the local authority.
After his cottage was painted, he used the leftovers for the tomb.
However, believing he did no wrong, Mr Curtin has no intention of repainting the vault, currently a yellow shade.
In a letter, however, the council stated it believed he was responsible for the painting of the family vault in Clohanes burial ground.
“Please note that this burial ground is a recorded monument and as such any works must be in keeping with surrounding vaults and burial plots,” the letter stated.
“As such, you are requested to return the family vault to its natural stone within 21 days from the date of this letter. If you fail to do so, the council will arrange to have the work completed and you will be responsible for any costs incurred by the council.”
PJ’s father Peter and his aunt Mary Ann are buried in one of the seven vaults in Clohanes cemetery. He painted the vault yellow about three years ago and repainted it the same colour about 18 months ago. The rest of the vaults are grey or whitewashed.
PJ said he was surprised to get a council letter and cannot understand what issue the council has with his choice of colour.
His nephew David Curtin claimed the council has no legal basis for sending the letter as the national guidelines for care and conservation of graveyards make no reference to painting a vault or headstone any particular colour.
He pointed out that the only reference to the document was a requirement not to apply paint to gravestone inscriptions, which had not been done.
“This is a case of bureaucracy gone mad. The council could have conducted more research on who applied the paint. How could the council send out a blanket letter like this without checking out the situation?” David Curtin asked.
“PJ had no idea the council would have an issue with this colour. Once he is finished painting his cottage, he uses any leftover paint to paint the family vault.”
However, according to the council, the national guidance document states that the painting of memorials should not be encouraged.
Traditionally, a burial house or memorial vaults have been either painted a lime wash or left in their natural stone state.
“The council believes unless the vault is returned to its original state, it will set an unwelcome precedent both at Clohanes/Cloonmore and potentially other burial grounds across Co Clare,” the council said.
“We are keen to work with Mr Curtin and other family members with a view to resolving this matter.”
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