Bereaved families unable to access graves of loved ones at Kilbarry
BEREAVED families have spoken of their distress at being unable to access the graves of their loved ones in a Waterford city cemetery.
A large number of graves in Kilbarry Cemetery, which is a lawn cemetery under the control of Waterford City & County Council, proved inaccessible during the recent spell of bad weather.
While relatives say they were aware of the rules associated with Kilbarry’s designation as a lawn cemetery, they claim it was never explained that footpaths would not be constructed between rows of graves.
Tony Comerford from Larchville buried his wife Kathleen on December 21st at the height of the bad weather.
“On the day of the funeral, we were slipping all over the place,” he explained.
“You don’t expect that you’d need a pair of wellingtons going to a funeral. People’s shoes and trousers were destroyed. Some people had to go home and change and others had to ask for wipes when we arrived at the hotel afterwards for refreshments.”
He continued: “My wife wasn’t fussy about where she was going to be buried. If I had to know about the situation here, we wouldn’t have arranged to use this cemetery. A lawn cemetery such as this may be fine in somewhere like Florida or Spain but not in this country.”
During the days after the funeral, the family had to use a plank in order to access the grave.
Mr Comerford highlighted the difficulties which people with a disability, especially wheelchair users, would face in accessing graves in the cemetery.
Another local resident, whose father died one year ago, also spoke to The Munster Express of the upset caused as a result of being unable to visit his grave.
“I came here two weeks ago and I couldn’t take the risk of going in to visit the grave,” she said.
“I was the only person in the graveyard at the time. The muck was so bad that I couldn’t access the grave. If I fell I wouldn’t be able to get up again and there was nobody else in the graveyard to help me. Normally when I’m visiting the graveyard I’d meet people at different graves but since Christmas I haven’t seen anybody else. People aren’t visiting because they can’t access the graves.”
Brenda Mitchell from Larchville, whose partner is buried in the cemetery, also spoke of her dissatisfaction with the current situation.
She spoke of her distress at visiting the graveyard on Christmas Eve with her daughter and the difficulties they faced in accessing the grave.
“We nearly broke our necks trying to access the grave,” she explained.
“My partner chose this graveyard, and it’s a lovely graveyard, but it was very disheartening for my daughter and for myself to see the condition of the area around the grave.”
She added: “We need footpaths. Even if families were asked to make a small donation, I’m sure there wouldn’t be objections.”
The concerned locals explained that the problem wasn’t apparent initially as the first graves to be occupied in the cemetery face onto a tarmac section.
As part of the lawn cemetery arrangement, no kerbing or ornamental stone is permitted.
“We are all ok with that, that’s part of the plan. But we need access to the graves. On a sign outside the graveyard it says that Kilbarry is a lawn cemetery but it doesn’t explain that there aren’t going to be footpaths,” said one concerned relative.
Concrete rows are in place throughout the graveyard but were put in place to cater for the erection of headstones and are not intended to be used as footpaths.
The Munster Express also spoke with a number of other people who are unhappy with a lack of footpaths in Kilbarry Cemetery.
Cllr John Hearne (SF) raised the issue at last week’s plenary meeting of Waterford City & County Council and outlined some of the concerns of families.
In response, Director of Services Fergus Galvin (Environment) said there was not a great deal more the council could do but said he would examine the area to establish if there were drainage issues.
Kilbarry Cemetery was officially opened in 2011 as a result of nearby St Otteran’s Cemetery reaching capacity.
It’s intended that the multi-denominational cemetery, which is located on the Ballybeg Link Road, will serve the needs of the city for the coming 150 years.