Shocking theft of figures from headstones in Ratoath Cemetery

A Dunshaughlin woman has spoken of her disbelief that a figure of Jesus on her grandparents' headstone in Ratoath Cemetery was removed and can't understand who would have taken it or why.

Anne-Marie Everard said she was horrified when she visited the cemetery to see that the same thing had also happened to two other headstones in the vicinity.

She said these figures wouldn't have come off too easily and she has no idea why anyone would do such a thing but says it seems to have been deliberate rather than just young lads messing.

The figure was on her grandparents' headstone at the Blessings of the Graves on 28th May but when her father went to the visit the grave on Tuesday, 30th May, it was gone. She reported what had happened to the Parochial House in the hope that the figure might have been picked up by someone.

A similar headstone shows the figure that was removed from Anne-Marie's grandparents' headstone. This headstone is also in Ratoath Cemetery but wasn't touched.

Anne-Marie later went to the graveyard herself to check it out thinking she might find it there but when she looked around, she soon realised that two other gravestones nearby had also had the figure removed.

"At that point I realised that someone had deliberately went in and taken them. They would have had to have tools. It was very cleanly done. If I tried to do it there would be bits everywhere.

"Who would take them though? I wouldn't have thought they would have any resale value."

Anne-Marie took photos and posted them on the local Ratoath Noticeboard Facebook page to make people aware of what happened and to see if anyone had any information.

Since the post went up in recent days, one woman contacted Anne-Marie to say she saw a man in his 40s or 50s who she thought was acting a bit suspiciously on 29th May and was carrying an empty bag going in to the graveyard, though Anne-Marie said could be just coincidence.

Another person contacted her to say she had seen men taking photos of headstones in Ratoath Cemetery a few weeks ago and had reported it to the Parochial House.

The figure was removed from the headstone some time between 28th and 30th May.

Anne-Marie said her Aunt is also buried there. "It is a bit upsetting for my dad, Tom. He is very easy going and at first thought it was just young fellas but he started to get upset and said he couldn't believe that somebody would purposely go in and rob a graveyard.

"In my opinion, I don't think it was a young fella. If you pulled at it, there would be bits broken off and there was nothing disturbed on the grave. The flowers weren't touched. They specificially went for the figure on the cross.

"I want to make people aware that this could be going on so if they see someone acting suspicously they will know this is what they could be up to and report it".

Anne-Marie has made a statement to Gardai who told her they would look at any CCTV in the area.

Meanwhile, local councillor Nick Killian has strongly condemned those responsible.

He said: "It is just totally disgraceful that anybody would touch any grave belonging to anybody, in Ratoath Graveyard or anywhere.

"It is desecration and we are sending out a strict warning that if anybody is caught desecrating a grave, we will go to the Gardaí and have them prosecuted.

"It is totally unacceptable and it’s causing sadness, upset and grief to the families. People are appalled by what happened. This is where their loved ones are buried to be left to rest in peace."

Cllr Killian said he had also spoken to the parish priest who is "appalled and very saddened that this has happened".

Cllr Killian is urging anyone with information to come forward and if anyone comes across this happening again to immediately contact Gardai.