Glasnevin cemetery unveils country’s first infant cremator

Cremation service set up because of demands from grieving parents

Glasnevin cemetery has opened Ireland’s first cremation facility for stillborn and newborn infants.

The crematorium at Newlands Cross cemetery has been set up to reassure the parents of infants who have died that all their ashes will be returned to their families.

The failure of a crematorium in Edinburgh to retain the ashes of infants who died caused a major scandal in Scotland and led to a commission of inquiry.

Crematorium staff had told families their children’s bodies were so small they left hardly any trace of ash. This was found to be incorrect.

However, the Glasnevin Trust says adult cremators are unsuitable for tiny babies as the process makes it difficult to collect all the ashes.

Angels’ plot

Glasnevin cemetery is also opening a new angels’ plot at Newlands Cross cemetery, as the one in Glasnevin is full. Graves will be available for the remains of both stillborn and newborn babies.

An angels’ chapel has also been planned where parents and families can hold services at Newlands Cross cemetery, which was opened in 2000.

Chief executive of Glasnevin Trust George McCullough said the new cremator and angels’ plot were planned long before the current controversy arose over the disposal of the remains of babies who died in the Tuam mother and babies home.


“Those controversies are going to be ongoing,” he said.

“It is a hugely emotional issue, especially for women, and it never goes away from them. We are being as open and transparent as we possibly can be.”

The cremation service for children will cost €300 as opposed to €900 for an adult. Mr McCullough said the small size of the cremator and the process used will ensure that 100 per cent of a child’s remains are returned to their families.

He also said cremation is an increasingly popular option for the remains of both adults and children, and that it was important to provide such a service.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times