Way cleared for extension of unique island graveyard

The way has been cleared for the transfer of land on historic Abbey Island, in the Derrynane National Historic Park, to Kerry County Council to allow for the extension of a unique island graveyard.

The site houses the tombs of the famed O’Connells in south Kerry. For centuries coffins were walked across a sand spit at low tide.

The most unique burial ground at Aghavore or Abbey Island may only be accessed when the tides are not full across the blue flag beach of Derrynane.

The coffins are traditionally preceded by a dark suited man with a white sash.

The island holds the remains of a tenth century monastery, Aghavore.

No new spaces have been available for at least a decade at the cemetery.

With many locals being buried elsewhere, the extension has been sought for years by the county council.

An application for land was made as far back as 1987 when the matter was raised in the Dáil, and again in November 2011.

Local councillor Paul O’Donoghue, who has long pressed the issue, said the island cemetery, was “a most unique place”.

Yesterday, senior executive engineer with Kerry County Council Colm Mangan said following a notice of motion by Mr O’Donoghue at a recent council meeting, the minister for finance confirmed the OPW could proceed with the transfer to the council.

Planning had been cleared in 2008 and it was now intended to proceed with the extension — entailing a detached 0.25acre cemetery with 160 spaces, located some 45m away from the existing graveyard — later this year, Mr Mangan said.

Meanwhile, interment in existing old family graves has continued.

In January of this year, part of the ashes of Dr Una O’Connell (nee Scorer), the 85-year-old widow of the late Dr Daniel O’Connell — a great-great-great- grandson of The Liberator and a Harley Street surgeon — was interred in the O’Connell family tomb alongside her husband.

Also buried in the family tomb is Mary O’Connell, wife of the Liberator, who died in 1836.

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