TWO West Limerick graveyards have been named as this year’s overall winners in the Co Limerick Burial Grounds Awards.
The graveyard at St Mary’s Church Askeaton took the overall award in the ancient burial ground section while Reilig Naomh Ide, in Feenagh took thehonours in the modern section.
This is the fifth year the council has run the scheme and Askeaton and Feenagh were presented with their awards at a special ceremony in County Hall. Winners from each of the council’s electoral areas were also honoured at the ceremony.
Congratulating all those who took part, Cllr Leo Walsh, Cathaoirleach of Limerick County Council said: “The people of rural Ireland have always shown a deep respect for their dead and, by extension, for their local burial ground. It is clear from speaking to the adjudicators that this respect has carried through to this awards scheme, such has been the quality of work carried out during 2012. I want to congratulate participants, many of whom received small maintenance grants from the Council during the year, for having done their respective communities proud.”
Ironically, the awards ceremony came just days after Cllr Walsh’s party colleague, Cllr Stephen Keary had lambasted the county council for neglecting protected graveyards. He had called on the council to relinquish its rights as it was unable to manage and maintain the graveyards in a manner befitting the dead.
Speaking at the awards ceremony, however, Limerick County Archaeologist Sarah McCutcheon said the council had just completed the first phase of a community based training project with West Limerick Resources on stone wall building with lime mortar. The council has has also co-operated with Ballyhoura on their Historic Graves project. Council director of services, Caroline Curley, acknowledged the role of individuals, voluntary and community groups in maintaining many of the county’s 300-plus graveyards. The awards scheme, she said was intended “ to highlight and reward groups who have shown particular commitment and initiative in following best practice in their work.”
Ms. Curley added: “Most of the county’s graveyards began life as early Christian or medieval parish churches and all of the graveyards and the ruined churches are, therefore, protected under the National Monuments Act and are Recorded or National Monuments. The groups have to acquire a particular skill set to maintain these graveyards to the highest standards. Guideline documents have been produced by the Department and the Heritage Council and there is archaeological advice within the Council for all groups to avail of.”
In the Ancient category, the area winners were as follows: Rathkeale: St. Mary’s Askeaton Church of Ireland (overall category winner), Ballinakill and Nantinan. Annacotty: Donoughmore, Mungret Old and Old Pallas. Kilmallock: Bruff Church of Ireland, Emlygrennan and Ballinlough. Newcastle West: Aglish, Monegay, Killoughlehane.Modern Section: Newcastle West: Naomh Reilig Ide Feenagh (overall category winner), St. Marys Abbeyfeale, Ardagh. Annacotty: St. Fintans Doon, St. Josephs Castleconnell and Kilkeedy Ballybrown. Rathkeale: Coolcappa, Reilig Mhuire Parish Churchyard Croom and Reilig Mhuire Askeaton.Kilmallock: and Galbally, Ardpatrick and Glenroe.