Dublin council cemeteries are at full capacity, report says
New survey recommends installing Columbarium walls for cremated remains
A Columbarium wall for cremated remains at Mount Jerome Cemetery in Dublin. Photograph: Aidan Crawley
Flowers placed at a Columbarium wall in Mount Jerome Cemetery, Dublin, by people who have stored their relatives’ ashes after cremation. Photograph: Aidan Crawley
Special walls where cremated remains can be interred should be installed in Dublin City Council cemeteries, according to a report.
The council’s Parks and Landscape Services says cremation has become the preferred method of interment in Ireland, with about 60 per cent of all recorded deaths now followed by cremation.
The report says there is a desire by communities to be interred in their own locality but many of the older cemeteries in the Dublin City Council area have now reached full capacity.
In October, a Vatican directive said ashes should remain in a sacred place following cremation, such as a cemetery or a church, or in a place dedicated to the purpose.
The council report highlighted a need to identify other interment options.
It said there was “merit for a number of Dublin City Council-owned graveyards to have Columbarium walls, thereby providing choice for people to be interred in their own locality which in many cases are now closed for burials”.
A Columbarium wall tends to be a freestanding structure containing niches in which cremated remains are interred and then usually covered with a plaque carrying an inscription.
Dublin City Council owns cemeteries at Bluebell, Clontarf, Killester, Raheny, St Canice’s Finglas, Donnybrook and Merrion.
According to the report, Bluebell presents the greatest opportunity for a Columbarium wall.
However, it added: “There is scope for Columbarium walls in other cemeteries, namely Donnybrook, Clontarf and Merrion.
“Many of Dublin City Council cemeteries have significant heritage value of national importance and any intervention must be done sensitively in conjunction with Dublin City Council’s heritage section and prescribed bodies.
“It is therefore recommended that a cemetery master plan be drafted which will include Columbarium walls.
“This will act as a focus for the future sustainable management and maintenance of the cemeteries under our control.”
Dublin city councillor Dermot Lacey said that if the proposal was successful, there would be scope to introduce smaller walls in a number of old churchyard graveyards.
“That would deal with the problem of land being no longer available,” he said.
The cost of each Columbarium wall providing 80 spaces is estimated at about €16,600.
“A little bit of investment is required but I think the money would be paid back relatively quickly and it would ultimately generate an income for the council,” he said.
Welcoming the idea, the Rev John Marchant, vicar at Donnybrook and Irishtown parishes, said many people had spent their lives in an area but had to be buried or interred elsewhere.
“When people come to the end of their lives, they don’t want to have to go out to Shanganagh or somewhere like that. They would like to have somewhere local where they’ve spent their lives.”