Mourners told: no packed lunches or tea in graveyard
A PARISH priest has warned mourners that they cannot eat packed lunches and drink flasks of tea while visiting their dead in local cemeteries.
Fr John Walsh also warned parishioners that he may remove large gaudy headstones, statues and trinkets from plots if they do not conform to strict new graveyard rules.
People in Buncrana, Co Donegal, were yesterday informed that 25-year-old rules governing local cemeteries have been revised to account for ever-decreasing capacity and new minimalist American-style lawn graves.
They were also told to respect the sanctity of the cemetery by not eating or drinking or talking loudly within the grounds.
"Visitors must observe that the cemeteries are sacred places and act accordingly, avoiding any loud or boisterous talking, loitering on the grounds, or in any of the buildings, bringing refreshments into the cemeteries or consuming them on the grounds," said Fr Walsh yesterday.
Parishioners were also advised not to close any deal with monument sculptors without first obtaining prior approval for their chosen memorial.
"We can't be having headstones in the shape of Transit vans and all sorts. People should check before they spend thousands on the wrong one. It will be a saving for them in the long run," Fr Walsh said.
The maximum height of headstones at the parish's two cemeteries has now been set at 4ft (1.22 metres) with an exception for Celtic crosses that can rise to 8ft (2.44 metres). Double-width graves are banned in favour of single (8ft x 4ft) graves with a maximum depth for two interment – except where more are requested.
"The parish reserves the right to prohibit the erection of any monument, considered as inappropriate either in material, workmanship or location, or which might interfere with the general effect, or obstruct any principal view of the cemeteries," he said.
The Sunday bulletin yesterday advised people to consult the lengthy new rules at the parish office or website.
The town's largest graveyard – St Mary's, Cockhill – is a sprawling cemetery with headstones of every shape and size dating back 150 years. The parish has favoured lawn-covered plots since 1989, to allow for ease of maintenance and upkeep. Local residents do not have to pay for a plot.
Meanwhile, parishioners have been informed that they can no longer erect kerbstones, kneel-stones, surrounds, fences or scatter gravel on plots. Any new memorial or other item that does not conform may be removed without notice, but any existing headstones will not be removed, Fr Walsh confirmed. He said untidy graves would not be tolerated.
"Vases, flowers, plants, trees, ornaments of any description, gravel and kerbstones are not permitted outside the area of the headstone. Any item which obstructs mowing will be removed, including items placed on the headstone plinth that project beyond the plinth."
Vending and advertising are also banned.