Blazin Aces Partnership recently applied to the Council to change the use of two existing retail units fronting onto the former graveyard to a private Members Gaming Club, a move which would be ‘utterly demeaning’ to the legacy of the Quakers in Waterford according to Clerk for the local Meeting Noel Keane. Currently being used as a City Council designated parking area, the site of the cemetery was ‘gifted’ to the local authority by the Quakers in 1950 along with nearby Wyse Park, on condition that the sites would be an amenity for the city and “be kept in decent order and under supervision as an open space in perpetuity for the benefit of the city.” Gambling, however, is completely outside the Quaker ethos
Controversy erupted late last year when a group of Quakers from around the world who were visiting Waterford discovered the resting place of their forebears was being used for pay parking and the Council has since drawn up plans to remove the car parking area and erect a memorial, most likely to include a tree and seating. The proposed gambling club, if approved planning permission, would front onto this memorial.
The St John’s Lane burial ground was used by Waterford Quakers for 75-years from the late 1600’s to approximately 1764, when a new burial ground was opened at Parliament Street. About 200 people are thought to be buried on the site in question, amongst them some of the city’s most illustrious business people, including members of the Malcolmson, Penrose, Jacob, Gatchell and Cherry families. City Council Director of Services Colette Byrne said the planned memorial was at an advanced stage, though work may be postponed pending the completion of the area’s KRM shopping centre since its construction would necessitate a closing off of the area.
Mr Keane said the Waterford Meeting had already lodged their objection with the Council, adding that it was a breach of trust by the local authority to allow such a demeaning of the resting place of so many illustrious contributors to the history of Waterford.