A graveyard for all denominations – and for none – has opened in Killarney at what is the eleventh hour for burial space in the Co Kerry town.
The opening of the yet unfinished graveyard at Knockeenduff comes as undertakers confirmed the town’s public graveyards are completely out of space for new burials.
The five-acre site, on farmland 4km northeast of the town just off the N22, was acquired by Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) last year. It was not without controversy as there had been objections to the plans by residents, and an oral hearing into the CPO.
Several sites had been canvassed for the graveyard since the search for a suitable site began, including land near Muckross Abbey owned by Killarney’s main landowner, the Office of Public Works.
The new facility is non-denominational to reflect the diversity of the new Killarney. All 2,300 graves at Knockeenduff will face east, reflecting the Christian, Irish, Jewish and Islam traditions. There is to be a Columbarium wall for the placement of urns containing ashes to cater to the growing preference for cremations in Killarney.
About 110 people die each year in Killarney, and some 15 per cent now opt for cremation.
One of the practical aspects of the new graveyard was the ample capacity for car parking, undertakers said.
The tradition in Killarney had long been for separate Protestant and Catholic graveyards, or separate sides of the cemetery – but the new burial ground is to mix all and there will be no divisions.
The Humanist tradition as well as Celtic spirituality were reflected in the reflections at the opening ceremony on Wednesday morning.
"This is the place where those with a religious background and those who have none will have a resting place," Mayor of Killarney John Sheahan said.
The first burial has yet to take place, and less than half the graveyard has been completed.