Rededication ceremony at refurbished cemetery
The Cemetery of St Aidan, in Kilrane, was the location for a re-dedication ceremony that attracted a large gathering of parishioners who got to see first-hand the work that has gone into refurbishing the graveyard over the last year.
Bishop Denis Brennan officiated at the ceremony and was joined by Fr Diarmuid Desmond PP and members of the cemetery committee.
Opened in 1920 the cemetery is around three acres in size and 30 years ago tarmac was laid down, however, as one of the committee members, Paddy Lonergan, pointed out to this newspaper the passage of time had taken its toll on the surface.
'The tarmac was put down around 30 years ago but some of it was long gone and there was always a problem with weeds and we were constantly spraying,' he said.
The paths in the cemetery were also not suitable for motor vehicles and while that wasn't a problem when the graveyard first opened, as coffins only had to be carried relatively short distances from the entrance, as the years passed it did become an issue as the distance from the entrance to grave sites increased.
'It did become an issue over time because all of the coffins had to be shouldered in from the road and the distance became further and further,' said Mr Lonergan.
The refurbishment work also involved the removal of an existing large Celtic cross in the middle of the cemetery and the erection a new one in a different location.
'The original cross was made from mass concrete but it had no steel inside so over time it became a health and safety hazard as it was chipped and cracked,' said Mr Lonergan.
'You could see cracks in it.'
The issue of removing and replacing the existing Celtic cross was a big undertaking, however, as Mr Lonergan pointed out even if the existing cross had been sound its location was an issue.
'It was located in a place the was restrictive so we decided to erect the new one in a different location, further up, and where the old one was we've installed two new polished granite seats and they look really well,' said Mr Lonergan.
Two granite pots, matching the seats, were also installed and new signs were also erected.
The new cross was sourced by Nolan Stoneworks in Ardcavan and because the original cross was a Celtic one the decision was made that the new one would also be of Celtic design.
'The original cross led to around 80 per cent of the headstones displaying crosses of comparative design and because of that we wanted the new cross to compliment that style,' said Mr Lonergan.
In 2010, Fr Desmond got the original set of plans for the cemetery and a decision was made last year to 'have a go' at refurbishing the cemetery and carry out necessary works.
Philip Lawlor, from John Creed and Associates, oversaw the work and Mr Lonergan was full of praise for the professionalism he brought to the project.
'Mr Lawlor is also a parishioner so he had an active interest in it,' said Mr Lonergan.
In 2017 the job went to tender and Paddy and Paul Browne, from Tagoat, were contracted to carry out the work.
'It was good that it was a local company for a number of reasons,' said Mr Lonergan.
'It was easy to work with people you knew and it was nice that a local company was doing the job,' he added.
The work that took place included developing a new drainage system as flooding was a cause of concern for a long time.
'There was always an issue with flooding and the pathway would often get flooded if there was heavy rainfall,' said Mr Lonergan.
'They removed the existing drain and put pipes in.'
The paths were also re-enforced and widened out to their maximum so they can accommodate the weight of hearses - which can now drive into the cemetery.
Mr Lonergan said the committee was delighted that Bishop Denis Brennan was available to perform the blessing.
The Church Choir also performed at the ceremony adding a lovely musical touch to the proceedings.
'It was a lovely, relaxed ceremony and the fine weather made it all the more special,' he said.
The overall cost of the work was €38,000 and the committee organised a house-to-house drop throughout the locality through which information packs and donation envelopes were distributed.
To-date that has yielded a return of €22,500 - much to the committee's delight.
'We had the first contribution a year ago and we are very grateful to parishioners for their support,' said Mr Lonergan.
Rather than try to fundraise for the project beforehand the committee decided it would be better to wait so that photographic evidence could be presented to people in the community highlighting the difference between what the cemetery did look like and what it has become.
Unfortunately, there were no grants available for cemetery renewal so the committee had to depend on the public to support the work.