Dead now being buried under pathways at 'full' island cemetery
A graveyard in the west is so full that people are now burying their dead under the pathways.
Islanders on Inis Mor, the largest of the Aran Islands off Galway, have been trying for years to extend the cemetery at Cnocan na mBan.
Now they have run into problems because the land acquired for the planned extension has been designated under the EU's Habitats Directive.
Most of Inis Mor is a Special Area of Conservation and Galway County Council has been advised that a botanical survey will first have to be carried out.
Local resident Jamesie O Flatharta said everyone thought that the graveyard crisis had finally been solved when the additional land for the extension was acquired by the local authority.
"It is already gone to the stage where people are being forced to bury their relatives on the cemetery pathways," he said.
Mr O Flatharta added: "When Galway County Council negotiated for extra land, we thought the problem was sorted, but now the botanical survey has set us all back."
A spokesperson for the council confirmed that the land for the extension had been acquired on Inis Mor and planning permission had been applied for.
But the advice from the National Parks and Wildlife Service was that a botanical survey would now have to be carried out. It is likely that this survey will not now take place before the spring.
Councillor Sean O Tuairisc said yesterday that the situation facing the people of Inis Mor was critical. The two other cemeteries on the island were full and the only option open to them was to extend the Cnocan na mBan cemetery.