Greener pastures await in eco-friendly graveyard
PLANNERS have given the green light for the country's first natural graveyard where marble headstones and varnished, hardwood coffins will be banned.
A 5,000-plot graveyard in Co Wexford will be open in six weeks and the businessman behind the venture said yesterday that hundreds of queries had already been received about securing a final resting place there. The 7.5-acre site at Woodbrook House, close to the village of Killane in Co Wexford, was granted planning permission last week.
Owner Colin McAteer (34) of The Green Grave Yard Company Ltd said around 300 queries had been received from families throughout Ireland and as far away as Canada since he lodged a planning application late last year.
The businessman said people were drawn to the idea because of the environmental perks. "You're effectively using your funeral as a conservation tool, leaving a legacy of care and respect for the planet," he said.
"The idea of the graveyard is that the ground has a second use as a new living, breathing forest. If you look at an ordinary graveyard, there's very little wildlife, there's very little nature there. The model that we're proposing is that you'll be creating a forest, which will provide new habitat for the wildlife."
Mr McAteer said marble headstones and concrete surrounds would be replaced by native Irish trees and small grave markers, no larger than 12 inches square, fashioned from locally carved stone or wood.
Coffins will be allowed, but they must be made from environmentally friendly materials.
They must not be varnished, can not have brass handles, and must not be constructed using hard-wood.
A 600ft driveway lined with mature chestnut trees will lead up to the site, which lies close to the foot of the Blackstairs Mountains.
The businessman, who comes from a family of funeral directors in the Fanad area of Donegal, believes there is now a strong market for similar schemes throughout the country.
Mr McAteer would not reveal how much a plot in the cemetery would cost but said it would match that of the council-run graveyards in the area.
Wexford County Council, which granted the planning permission, charges €1,000 for a single plot.
Mr McAteer established another company, Green Coffins Ltd, after people asked about environmentally friendly caskets.
It supplies a variety of eco-friendly caskets, including ones made from willow, water hyacinth and bamboo coffins, as well as those made from cardboard.