Blacked out headstones in St Finnbarr's have not been vandalised

Blacked out headstones in St Finnbarr's have not been vandalised
The Sisters of Mercy plot in St Finbarr's Cemetery on the Glasheen Road, Cork. Pic: Kelly O'Brien

CITY HALL officials have moved to reassure members of the public that the desecration of graves in council-run cemeteries is not a common occurrence.

They made the comments this week after a number of people contacted media outlets concerned that the Sisters of Mercy plot in St Finbarr’s Cemetery on the Glasheen Road had been vandalised.

One local said they were “disgusted” to see the plot vandalised, while another said it was “absolutely horrible”, “shameful”, and that there was “no respect, even for the dead”.

It has since emerged, however, that the Sisters of Mercy plot, where roughly 200 nuns of the order are buried, has not been vandalised, but has been undergoing rejuvenation works. As part of this, experts in headstone carving, cleaning and polishing spray black paint over the stone’s inscription, in order to revamp the black lettering, and later clean off the excess when repolishing the entire stone.

This process can look like vandalism to members of the public who are unaware of the practice.

“It’s certainly not vandalism. Thankfully, in our cemeteries we don’t have a problem with vandalism, generally. With that specific plot, it’s a work in progress. There are works at that plot at the moment and there is a contractor there working on it,” explained Stephen Scully, communications liaison officer with Cork City Council’s Environment and Recreation Department.

“We had an incident a few years ago in St Joseph’s Cemetery on Tory Top Road but that was an isolated incident. It was a one-off really. A number of headstones at the time were smashed.”

He said that incident was followed up by the Gardaí and that there was no reoccurrence.

“That’s abnormal behaviour, to be desecrating cemeteries,” he said.

“But in general, thankfully, we do not have a problem with vandalism in our cemeteries.

“We maintain our graveyards to a high standard and we’re proud of them and we like to see them both as a recreational space as well as a contemplative space where people can come in and visit their loved ones or just even take a walk in.

“They are pleasant spaces to walk around and people, in general, respect that.”

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