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Sunday 24 March 2019

Council rush to halt bulldozing of Loreto graveyard

Stopped: Ground clearance work at the old graveyard behind the former Loreto School
Stopped: Ground clearance work at the old graveyard behind the former Loreto School

Pádraig Byrne

County Council officials rushed to bring a halt to works at the rear of the Loreto Convent and School on Spawell Road last week, as it emerged that the old graveyard there, a protected structure, had been substantially bulldozed as contractors carried out maintenance work on behalf of the Loreto Sisters.

Significant work took place at the historic graveyard, in which the remains of Loreto nuns are buried, before Wexford County Council ordered a halt to the work. A concerned local resident brought the matter to the attention of Cllr George Lawlor, who immediately notified council officials.

Council planner Liam Bowe quickly attended the site on Thursday afternoon to carry out an inpsection and he ordered a cessation of work.

On Thursday evening, a digger lay motionless after work came to a halt, while a large section of the area appeared to have been dug out. Railings which surrounded the old graveyard were removed, while headstones and paving stones could be seen piled up to the side.

It is understood that the advice of conservation experts is now being sought in an attempt to reinstate the graveyard, which is the historic resting place of Loreto Sisters.

Speaking following the cessation of work, Sr Helen O'Riordain of the Loreto order insisted that no graves had been disturbed.

'There was some work done,' she said. 'Nothing is gone or has been removed though. We're looking to get a clearer picture on what's to happen going forward.'

Sr Helen stated that the work was being carried out in a bid to secure the site and 'make it less dangerous' as well as 'making it as maintenance-free as possible' with a view to the building being sold in time. 'Some of the walls there were dangerous,' she said. 'We were trying to make it as safe as possible and look to the future.'

'The building is not for sale currently, but it's likely that it will be soon,' she added.

Meanwhile, Cllr Lawlor said that it's a serious matter and he is hoping that the damage done is not irreparable.

'I don't think they (the Loreto Sisters) realised the significance of it being a listed structure,' he said.

'The council immediatley asked for work to cease on the site and it may be the case that everything will have to go back and be restored. It is a very serious situation though. This is a listed structure in the County Development Plan.'

Wexford People

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