Overgrown state of martyrs’ graveyard raises concern

COUNCIL officials have blamed Government cutbacks for the overgrown state of a burial ground in which some of Ireland’s best-known republican martyrs are buried.

The grass is almost a foot high on the historic site in Cork’s St Finbarr’s Cemetery where Irish republicans, most of whom died in the 1920s, including martyred lord mayors Terence McSwiney and Tomás Mac Curtain, are buried.

The grass verges within the rest of the cemetery — where former Taoiseach Jack Lynch, the antiquarian Richard Rolt Brash, who was among the first to decipher the ancient Ogham writing style, sculptor Seamus Murphy and Cork’s first Lord Mayor Daniel Hegarty are also buried — are also overgrown.

A spokesperson for City Hall, which is responsible for its maintenance, admitted the current state of the cemetery is upsetting for relatives whose loved ones are buried there.

But she said it is a direct consequence of Government cutbacks and the public sector recruitment embargo.

The council has lost between 25 and 30 workers from its parks maintenance section, most of whom would have been detailed to maintain the city’s four cemeteries — St Michael’s in Blackrock, St Catherine’s in Kilcully, St Joseph’s in Ballyphehane and St Finbarr’s in Glasheen.

Most of those people were on temporary contracts and the council had to let them go. They cannot be replaced because of the recruitment embargo.

“The public has in general been shielded from the effects of such cutbacks. But it was always going to just a matter of time,” the spokesperson said. “We have done very well until now to maintain the appearance of places as well as we have.

“But we are really feeling the effects of it now as we enter the summer season. The effects of the cutbacks are now visible for all to see.”

The council is responding to complaints and allocating maintenance crews where they are most needed.

Limited cemetery crews are prioritising burials and maintenance issues are secondary, another spokesperson said, but he assured that a crew will be dispatched to St Finbarr’s within the next week to tackle the growth.

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