Council to press ahead with graveyard development despite tourism concerns

A town council has narrowly voted to press ahead with plans for a graveyard overlooking the lakes of Killarney — amid resistance from a major tour operator, a five-star hotel and a number of local residents.

The top Kerry tourist town is running out of grave space quickly, a council meeting was told, but the proposed site is adjacent to the ancient and near-full Aghadoe cemetery.

The council had held advanced discussions with a landowner to purchase a 6.5-acre site southwest of the Aghadoe viewing point and was preparing to proceed to a public notice on the matter.

However, town manager John Breen, who had spearheaded the discussions, said he had changed his mind and felt there were genuine concerns by the community “regarding the impact” it would have on the tourist, visual and heritage amenity of the location.

Cllr Seán O’Grady, who had tabled a joint motion to proceed with the plans, said he was astonished at the manager’s stance which he described as bizarre.

The council, he said, had “unanimously” agreed to acquire the site in question: “The manager and councillors agreed the price. The heritage side okayed it. We have a situation tonight where the town manager recommends we don’t proceed.

“In all my 38 years as a councillor, this is most unique; we have expended a lot of time and money on this and a senior official is saying we shouldn’t proceed. It is bizarre to say the least.”

He said the site was less visible to the public than the existing ancient graveyard. There was no sound reason, he argued, why the council should not go ahead.

Mayor of Killarney Seán Counihan said the proposed graveyard need not be obtrusive.

“I carry no torch for anyone. We owe it to the people of the town that they have somewhere to bury their dead,” Mr Counihan said using his casting vote to pass the motion.

The matter will now go to Kerry County Council to decide on a part 8 process, on drawings and public notices for planning purposes.

Voting for the motion to were Sean O’Grady, Donal Grady, Hugh Courtney and Mayor Sean Counihan.

Michael Gleeson, John O’Donoghue, Cathal Walsh and Tom Doherty voted against the motion.

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