Sisters describe pain of seeing their parents' grave vandalised: 'There are some things drink and drugs can't excuse'

Sisters describe pain of seeing their parents' grave vandalised: 'There are some things drink and drugs can't excuse'
Damage to graves at Kilcully Cemetery, outside Cork CityPic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

THERE were further heartbreaking scenes at Cork's vandalised cemetery today as two sisters described the pain caused to their family.

The sickening incident saw around 20 gravestones knocked or damaged, along with holy statues decapitated, at St Catherine's Graveyard in Kilcully.

Kay O'Mahony from Rathcooney and her sister Dolores were visiting their parents' grave yesterday when speaking to The Echo.

Damage to their mother and father's grave included the removal of a holy cross that had previously been nailed to a headstone. 

A headless statue in Kilcully.Picture: Jim Coughlan.
A headless statue in Kilcully.Picture: Jim Coughlan.

The siblings lost their mother Cora and father Donal a number of years ago. Both had died aged 59 and within a year of one another.

"Once you lay someone to rest you would think that's the end," Kay said. 

"Then something like this happens. 

"We are disgusted that this happened at all, never mind to our mum and dad's grave. This is the last thing we ever thought we'd be doing.  

"When we first heard the news we didn't think that our parents grave would be affected. Finding out it had been was devastating."

Dolores spoke of their disgust towards the people responsible.

"There are some things drink and drugs can't excuse," she said. 

"You wonder what must have been going through their heads when they did this."

Kay and Dolores emphasised that not everyone affected has somewhere to turn.

"In some ways we are lucky," Dolores added. 

"Some people lost complete gravestones. 

"We have a big family so we can all come together and pay for the damage. However, there are some people who don't have that. Some people are coming out here on their own. 

"They have nobody left at all. At least we have each other. To think that in this day and age we would need CCTV in graveyards is scandalous."

Kay added that the dead should be able to rest in peace.

"This is meant to be a place of rest," Kay said. 

"The dead need to be left to rest in peace, but as long as this is happening they can't do that."

One of the hardest parts for Kay is the unanswered questions.

"This was completely random but I can't stop thinking 'why them?' You can't help but feel that way."

Dolores said she hopes the perpetrators can be brought to justice.

"If it turns out that the people responsible are 16, the harshest punishment will be a slap on the wrist. However, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter how old they were. They knew what they were doing was wrong."

Kay spoke of how the criminals have added salt to open wounds.

"No matter how long someone is left behind it is still difficult. This, on top of everything, makes it even harder.

"We would love to see these people caught and put in jail, but I don't think that's going to happen."

Eric Mulryan from Mayfield and his wife Fiona had a number of loved ones buried at the cemetery but luckily were unaffected.

Damage to graves at Kilcully Cemetery, outside Cork CityPic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
Damage to graves at Kilcully Cemetery, outside Cork CityPic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

"What happened was tragic and unexpected," Eric said. "It is bringing it all back for people."

Speaking about the extent of the damage, Eric said: "This wasn't just people coming down with a few bottles and cans. They knew what they were doing. 

"In order to do what they did, they would have needed to bring tools. They knew what they were setting out to do. Whoever did this knows how to hurt people."

He pointed out how this could affect people already struggling financially.

"There are people who have had to take out loans from credit unions to pay for these gravestones.

"If it was a family feud then why did the graves need to be affected? The fear for people now is that retaliation could result in other graves being destroyed too."

Fiona said it would not be surprising if the people responsible had known someone buried at the graveyard.

"With the number of young people dead they must have known somebody buried here," she said.

Paul White, from Blackpool, whose parents are buried at the cemetery, also slammed the crime.

"This is a crime that served no purpose whatsoever. This is such a personal place for people. Some come here on a daily basis. They leave little trinkets and have conversations with the people they have lost."

Meanwhile, North-West councillor Thomas Gould said the cemetery will be manned by security as a short term solution.

Large numbers of people at the grave yard to check their family graves and inspect the Vandalism.Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Large numbers of people at the grave yard to check their family graves and inspect the Vandalism.Picture: Jim Coughlan.

“The council has confirmed to me that there will be 24-hour security on the site in the short-term until things settle down," he said. 

"They will have a security guard onsite in the office monitoring anything that happens up there and carrying out regular patrols. 

"The Gardaí have now taken away CCTV footage and are analysing that to see if they can identify how the vandals arrived at the site. They need vehicle reg numbers to do that.

"At Saturday's public meeting, I will be calling for a committee to be formed and a bank account to be set up and a list made of all the affected families to give us an idea of where we are.”

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