Council fails to secure land amid grave plot shortage

The escalating cost of agricultural land is making it difficult to acquire land for burial ground in an area already short of publicly- owned grave plots.

Killarney Town Council has been unsuccessfully looking for land for a graveyard for more than 20 years and failed again in its most recent bid.

The council put in a €240,000 offer for a 12-acre lot on a farm at Knockeenduve, on the northern outskirts of the town, but the lot eventually went for €385,000 to another bidder — far exceeding the guide price.

The grave situation was raised at Monday night’s town council meeting, which heard it was “now at crisis point”.

Only 20 spaces remain in a Killarney public cemetery, according to a joint motion by Cllrs Sean O’Grady and Donal Grady

For many years, most burials in the area have been in the privately-owned Aghadoe Lawn Cemetery and the motion called on the council executive to immediately enter into negotiations with the Lawn cemetery owners.

“I’m calling on the council to purchase the Lawn cemetery immediately. This (purchase) can be a joint effort between the town council and the county council and if the county council is not in favour, then we should pursue it alone,’’ Cllr Grady said.

Town manager John Breen said, despite being outbid recently, they were still looking for land, but would only agree to purchase on the basis of a proper valuation.

“We’re looking at all the options and there may be other (suitable) land in the area,’’ he stated.

The council has also been trying to arrange a land swap with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) for ground in the Muckross area of Killarney for a cemetery.

But, the park authorities have so far been reluctant to come to an agreement and there’s also opposition from some local environmental groups to the use of the National Park as a cemetery.

Cllr O’Grady, however, felt the council should pursue the Muckross option and “resurrect’’ negotiations with the park authorities.

“The alternative in relation to Muckross does not seem to be happening,’’ he remarked.

Mr Breen said the NPWS had still not received a direction from the Attorney General with regard to the Muckross proposal.

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