Gravediggers told plot not deep enough on day of funeral

Gravediggers were told on the morning of a funeral, a burial plot on rocky ground was not deep enough.

And a person, believed to be a council official, had advised the grave would have to be extended down a further two feet.

The incident was relayed to a council meeting by Clare Fine Gael county councillor Bill Slattery.

He further claimed council employees in north Clare were doing spot checks on open graves to check if they were eight feet deep.

“In recent times, a person was being buried and somebody came out and told them that the coffin wasn’t down far enough,” said Mr Slattery.

He claimed the so-called official had also warned that, “if it wasn’t done right, the funeral mightn’t take place”.

“They couldn’t go down any further because they had met rock,” said Mr Slattery. “They were down five foot nine and he said ‘ye better go down to eight foot. Those are the new guidelines.”

The councillor declared: “And this was the morning of the funeral.”

Mr Slattery said rock formation in the locality “mitigated against deep graves”.

“I want to know are there new EU guidelines or guidelines from the Department of Environment as regards new requirements for burial grounds relating to the depth a coffin has to be put down?” asked Mr Slattery.

“It’s impossible to dig to a depth of eight feet.

“I believe there are personnel from Clare County Council, roaming around inspecting graves to make sure that a coffin is down, I’m told, eight feet.

“There are graveyards around here where you can barely go down five feet because of the rock situation. It has to be clarified because the undertakers are not too sure and they have asked to find out are there new guidelines for burying people?

“Some of the undertakers have been challenged recently for not going down far enough. It’s a very sensitive topic but I just want to get clarification on it.

Mrr Slattery said undertakers want Clare Co Council to dig a line of 10 graves and backfill them again so they can be opened to the correct depth.

Council officials are believed to be examining the claims.

In the meantime, Fianna Fáil councillor Richard Nagle suggested commonsense should prevail.

“What’s needed here is a small bit of commonsense,” said Mr Nagle. “People have been buried for generations in these cemeteries in north Clare. The incident that Cllr Slattery referred to was extremely regrettable.

“At the time, it was very difficult and very emotional for the family.

“I would suggest that if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. The system has worked extremely well and everybody has been happy up to now.”


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