Bereaved families are faced with “intolerable” situations over a continuing delay by Kerry County Council to secure land for a public burial site in Killarney.
An undertaker in the tourist town has warned of the potential friction caused within families at such a traumatic time in their lives.
Mary O’Shea, of O’Shea’s Funeral Home in Killarney, said there had been over 90 deaths in the town since April, leaving many families with “a difficult decision about where to bury a loved one”.
With no public option, relatives could face paying about €3,500 for a single grave in a private site, she said, on top of funeral costs.
Urging action, she relayed to councillors the “huge and needless distress” facing the bereaved.
Currently, in a town with a population of 15,000, the public cemetery has no new burial sites available.
The owner of a private cemetery is willing to negotiate the sale of his land with Kerry County Council. At the same time, alternative land suitable for a cemetery is on the market.
However, the continuing delays are also frustrating local politicians.
County council management, last March, had announced problems in acquiring land had eventually been resolved and they were about to clinch a deal and hopefully resolve the problem.
However, a meeting of Killarney Municipal Authority was told last week the council had yet to finalise the proposed purchase and was now keeping its options open.
Most local burials are now in a privately-owned cemetery in Aghadoe, just outside the town.
Otherwise, people in the area may have to bury loved ones in adjoining parishes.
Killarney Town Council, abolished in June, had ring-fenced €500,000 for a burial ground.
In springtime, local councillors were told the agreement had been virtually finalised to purchase the Aghadoe private cemetery.
However, municipal district manager John Breen told last week’s meeting the council was still in “active negotiations”.
He had, apparently, hoped to have the matter resolved for the meeting but negotiations had not been finalised.
Raising the issue, Cllr Brendan Cronin (Ind) pointed out an offer had been made by another person to sell six acres at Knockeenduve, about 3km from the town, and he asked if the council was interested.
“Here we have an opportunity to acquire suitable land and we don’t seem to be taking the appropriate action,” he said.
“Are we sitting back waiting to facilitate some other individual and leaving this opportunity go?”
Mr Breen said a number of negotiations were being carried out, including Aghadoe, but none was “over the line” at this stage.
He said they were well aware of the land mentioned by Cllr Cronin but they had a hierarchy of options and were keeping everything open.
In a letter to councillors, undertaker Mary O’Shea said there had been over 90 deaths in the town since April, leaving 90 families with a difficult decision about where to bury a loved one.
She said the situation was “causing huge, needless distress to already traumatised people” and it looked as if many more families would go through the same distress before Killarney Municipal Authority took firm, decisive action.
“We, the staff of O’Shea’s Funeral Home, have witnessed first hand the enormous burden this has caused families at the worst time in their lives. Where can we bury our beloved, bearing in mind that we will also need to bury his/her partner in time?
“If families don’t have the money to pay for a private, single grave— €3,500 plus the cost of funeral, €3,500 approximately — then they are facing an intolerable situation, resulting in families very often fighting and falling out during a funeral.”
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