First purpose-built infant cremator installed

Ireland’s first purpose-built infant cremator has been installed at Newlands Cross Cemetery in Dublin.

The cremator is specifically designed to cremate still-born and newborn infants and non-viable foetuses.

As it is smaller than an adult cremator and has a gentler process, it ensures all of the remains can be returned to families.

Glasnevin Trust manages Newlands Cross Cemetery and said it wanted to make the public aware the cremator was available.

George McCullough, chief executive of the trust, said that the cremator was installed last September and had been used for three cremations.

The process takes about two hours.

“I can guarantee that we will return the ashes of a child that a family brings to us — no more and no less,” he said yesterday.

Mr McCullough said that he realised it was a very sensitive issue but they wanted to be as open, straightforward, and as transparent as possible.

There is a modern non-denominational temple in the cemetery and there are plans to have an Angels Chapel as well.

Mr McCullough said that the trust would be closing the Angels Plot at Glasnevin Cemetery next spring due to space restrictions.

The Angels Plot has been open since 1832 and around 20,000 infants, babies, and young children are buried there.

A new Angels Plot at Newlands Cross can accommodate up to 25,000 and Glasnevin Trust has been liaising with the Irish Sudden Death Association and A Little Lifetime Foundation in its design.

Mr McCullough said that parents were encouraged to bring their children to the cemetery for burial or cremation.

He said the age restriction on the Angels Plot was to be eight years old but, in the 25 years he had worked at Glasnevin Cemetery, he never saw a child older than a newborn.

There is a public viewing room in the crematorium where there are separate cremators for adults and infants.

“If anybody wants to see the cremation process — there are those who want that finality for religious reasons, then we allow them to sit in the room,” Mr McCullough said.

The grey-coloured purpose-built crematorium has a sloped zinc roof and two chimneys.

The building has been recessed into the landscape and surrounded by trees so it is unobtrusive.

Asked about the timing of the announcement with the current controversy about the former mother and baby homes, Mr McCullough, said it had been planned months ago and Ireland was now a different place.

“We see women coming into Glasnevin Cemetery 20, 30, 40, or even 50 years after burying children in the Angels Plot.

“It is a very emotional subject, particularly for women, and the pain of their loss never leaves them,” said Mr McCullough.

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