Volunteers have removed almost a tonne of rubbish from one of the most historic cemeteries in Cork just weeks after littering and a graffiti attack caused upset and distress.
A team of about 20 locals removed the material from Inniscarra Cemetery, just west of Ballincollig, and tidied paths and removed overgrown vegetation.
Cork City Council confirmed it is also poised to appoint a specialist contractor to remove the graffiti from inside the ruined church and tower, which stands within the cemetery.
It follows engagement and consultation with the city archaeologist about the best approach to clean the structure, which is recorded as a national monument and a protected structure.
Any graffiti removal works must be undertaken carefully by specialist contractors using the right equipment and material.
The ruined ivy-clad church and cemetery stand on a bend on the northern banks of the river Lee, in the townland of Garravagh, which has been a site of worship for over 1,000 years.
St Senan is said to have a built a monastery in the area in 520AD. There is no trace of that structure today. The ruined church dates from the mid-1600s and fell into disuse about 1820.
The adjoining rectangular cemetery has a large collection of 18th- and 19th-century headstones, the earliest of which dates to 1770. There are a number of gabled mausoleums, which have all suffered from vandalism.
Shane Fallon, the chairman of the Inniscarra Graveyard Restoration Committee, said the group, many of whom have family plots in the cemetery, came together in 2015 to clean it after a spate of illegal dumping.
“It’s off the beaten track and has always been popular as a fishing spot but there has been a big surge in visitors during the last year due to the lockdown,” he said.
“It’s become a lot more popular with walkers and cyclists stopping off for a break. We’d go in there every year and do a blitz of the place, removing all the illegally dumped material.
“Thankfully, the scale of dumping has gone down every year and this year, we collected about a tonne of rubbish, mostly cans and bottles, that kind of stuff.”
He said there has been a noticeable improvement in the upkeep and maintenance of the cemetery since the city council assumed responsibility for its management following the 2019 city boundary extension.
But he said a CCTV system could help deter illegal dumping and vandalism.
“It’s not as much as a litter blackspot as it used to be. We’d like to see it stay that way,” he said.
A spokesman for the city council said it welcomed the involvement of community groups like this but he encouraged people to engage with City Hall first to ensure their work, especially in historic cemeteries, is done properly and carefully.