New 'eco-friendly' graveyard could greatly cut burial costs

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AN IRISH company said its new natural burial ground in Co Wexford could “significantly” cut the cost of funerals.

The Green Graveyard company has been granted planning permission to open Ireland’s first “environmentally-friendly” graveyard on the slopes of the Blackstairs Mountains between the villages of Kiltealy and Killane, about 12 miles from Enniscorthy. The first burials are expected to take place in October.

The owner of the Donegal-based company, Colin McAteer, said the 7.5-acre site would be run along “totally sustainable lines” and cater for people of “all religions and none” where the deceased will be offered “a beautiful final resting place surrounded by native Irish trees, flowers and wildlife”.

Costs will be lower than for conventional funerals as plots will cost “significantly” less than in many traditional graveyards and coffins with brass handles and fittings will be replaced by “eco-friendly” caskets.

A single plot would cost €600; a double €1,200 and “a family plot to fit four” €2,200 – plus VAT” which he claimed was good value because “graveyard plots in Ireland can cost up to €7,000”.

Instead of the “marble headstones and concrete surrounds that are commonplace in Irish graveyards”, each grave will be marked by “a native Irish tree” and a small marker made from either wood or locally quarried stone “no higher than 12 inches”.

Mr McAteer claimed that “allowing your funeral to be used as a conservation tool will leave a legacy of care and respect for our planet”. He was “absolutely delighted” to receive planning permission from Wexford County Council and had already received “very positive feedback” from the public.

The company is already planning other natural burial grounds throughout the State including one at a site “close to Dublin” for which a planning application is expected to be submitted shortly. The Wexford facility would be able to accommodate more than 5,000 burials. Mr McAteer expects demand for natural burial grounds to increase as traditional graveyards run out of space and as local authorities seek to reduce ongoing maintenance costs.

Although this is a first for Ireland, natural burial grounds are popular overseas. According to Mr McAteer, there are “250 natural burial grounds in the UK with more opening every month and they already account for 32 per cent of all burials”.

Mr McAteer also runs Green Coffins Ireland, which supplies undertakers with a range of “eco” funerary requisites including coffins made from willow, cardboard, bamboo and banana leaf. For those who chose to be cremated, the company said its “eco coffins” were accepted by “all the crematoriums in Ireland, North and South” and it also provides “eco-urns” made from “100 per cent recycled paper “ or wickerwork for the storage or burial of ashes.

The company is planning to have an official opening ceremony at the Co Wexford site in early October and was already “keen to hear from anyone interested in a natural burial”.

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