A ‘natural burial ground’ is to be provided within the new municipal graveyard at Ballybeg.

The City Council has completed the planning process for the new 4,500 Kilbarry Graveyard and work is to commence shortly, Monday night’s meeting of the local authority was told, with the cemetery due to open early next year.

A sum of €1m has been allocated for the creation of the 10-acre multi-denominational graveyard on waste ground close to St Saviour’s Church, which will include a columbarium (an ashes repository), a memory garden, a plot of angels and a central ceremonial plaza to consist of a seating area and a raised dais, which will be a central feature and focal point.

The Council received just two submissions relating to the new graveyard during the planning phase. Marie Keating, from Passage East, suggested the creation of a “natural burial ground”, which allows for the planting of a tree or shrub instead of a traditional headstone. Monday night’s meeting was told that this was certainly an option for part of the site and could be addressed in the cemetery by-laws. Responding to a query by Cllr Davy Walsh, Director of Services Collette Byrne said these by-laws were currently being drafted.

The second submission to the City Council came from Southend United FC, proposing that the entrance laneway to their grounds be used as a secondary entrance to the burial ground and that a decorative wall and entrance gates be provided. However the Council deemed that proposal outside the scope of the project. It was noted that, if the club wishes to have a more decorative entrance, which is desirable, it may provide it itself.

At the Council meeting Cllr Seamus Ryan said the Southend proposal made sense, adding that he understood how the Council could not meet the costs at the moment, ‘but it might be something to consider for the future’. Cllr Ryan also suggested that the palisade fencing surrounding a section of the graveyard be replaced by a wall, to make the area look more pleasant. Director of Services Collette Byrne said extensive planting would take place alongside the fencing to provide screening.

The Kilbarry burial ground will be accessed by a vehicular entrance off the Ballybeg Link Road and surrounded by wall/railings/palisade fencing, with an interior car park accommodating some 96 cars. A potential future site for a mortuary building or some such ancillary service building will provide extra car parking in the short term. Also on site will be a workshop for the purposes of burial ground maintenance and public toilets.