Appeal for volunteers to maintain historic cemetery

VOLUNTEERS are being sought to help a cash- strapped local authority maintain an historic cemetery which has become overgrown due to government cutbacks.

The Irish Examiner first highlighted the situation at St Finbarr’s Cemetery on Glasheen Road in Cork, in May, when the grass in places was over a foot high.

One of the worst affected areas was the plot where martyred lord mayors Terence McSwiney and Tomás MacCurtain are buried.

Other noted figures buried there include 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.

While some plots are being maintained by families, several communal areas in the cemetery’s older sections have become overgrown.

Council officials have admitted the situation is very upsetting for relatives of those buried there.

But they said it was as a direct result of government cutbacks and the 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 council’s four cemeteries — St Michael’s in Blackrock, St Catherine’s in Kilcully, St Joseph’s in Ballyphehane and St Finbarr’s.

The maintenance crew at St Finbarr’s has been cut back from eight to just two, who have been directed to prioritise burials, with maintenance issues secondary.

Now four Fine Gael councillors — John Buttimer, Laura McGonigle, Des Cahill and Emmet O’Halloran — have invited people to attend a meeting in the city tonight to discuss a major volunteer clean-up.

They hope to establish a “Friends of St Finbarr’s Cemetery” association to plan an immediate volunteer clean-up, and to work with the city council on a maintenance programme.

Mr Buttimer said the work needs to be done in a planned and coordinated way after insurance, and health and safety concerns were raised.

City officials are willing to work with the volunteers to ensure the work is done properly.

The meeting takes place in the SMA Hall, Wilton, at 7pm tonight.

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