The tradition of burying people in their own parish or village may soon disappear with the introduction of a major restructuring of the cemeteries service by Meath County Council.
As cemeteries in local towns and villages continue to fill up, officials have warned that it will not be possible in future for the council to provide replacement burial grounds throughout the county.
Cemeteries may in future have to be provided on a ‘regional’ basis. However, although up to 10 per cent of deceased people are cremated, the council has firmly ruled out the building of a crematorium in the county.
The cost of dying, already expensive, will also go up with the strong possibility that charges for graves will rise. At present, a single grave in Duleek cemetery is €600 for a single grave and €1,200 for a double. Officials hinted that a future cost in new burial grounds might be pitched at €900 for a single and €3,000 for a four-space plot.
Many cemeteries in the county operate an unwritten ‘locals only’ burial policy to prevent cemeteries from filling up quickly, and the council also has hinted that some Dublin people have sought to bury relatives in Meath cemeteries because of high city burial costs.
The council undertook a major survey of burial grounds in Meath with the aim of devising a policy document on the planning and provision of cemeteries and to feed into its policy in relation to the operation and maintenance of burial grounds vested in the control of the council.
Senior council officials Larry Whelan and Caroline Corrigan, in a briefing on the council’s proposed 30-year plan for cemeteries this week, said that economics would dictate that it would not be possible in future to provide a burial ground in every parish. It has also been made clear by the churches that they can be ruled out as providers of new cemeteries.