Kerry people are storing the remains of loved ones on shelves and in “presses and cupboards” because none of the county’s 154 public cemeteries has columbarium walls, or facilities for the internment of ashes. Such walls have a series of niches allowing ashes to be stored.
Since 2017, undertakers have reported a growing trend for cremation in the county but the urgent need for walls in the cemeteries there has still not been met, a meeting of Kerry County Council was told.
The county’s newest graveyard, the multi-faith, non-denominational graveyard of Killarney Cemetery, still has no columbarium wall despite it being a key element of the original plans.
“The ashes of deceased relatives are in presses and cupboards because there is nowhere to put them,” said Independent councillor Brendan Cronin. “What in the name of God is taking so long?”
Families and undertakers too are storing the ashes of the deceased in urns on shelves on their premises, he said. Labour councillor Marie Moloney told of a burglary in Dublin recently where the house had been trashed and the owners returned to find the ashes of a loved one “spread all over the place”.
“A lot of people are happy to keep the ashes in their homes, but others are not. What is the delay with Killarney?” she asked.
Director of services John Breen said loan funding for the development of walls in Tralee and Killarney has been approved. The design and tender for Killarney was being progressed and the tender advertised by the end of January, he said.
“As this is the first development of its kind in the county, appropriate consideration had to be given to its design, layout and setting,” Mr Breen said.
However, Mr Moloney wants the tender for Killarney sent out this week.