HISTORIC headstones in Limerick’s oldest graveyard have been damaged over the weekend, with the culprits causing up to €50,000 worth of damage.
Gardai are now examining CCTV footage taken from near Mount St Lawrence Cemetery, between Saturday night and Sunday morning when some 37 headstones were knocked over and smashed into pieces.
Sergeant Cathal O’Neill, Roxboro garda station, described it as “a dirty act” and “sheer wanton vandalism which appears to be completely random”. He said it was brought to their attention early on Sunday morning by two people who were visiting graves.
Gardai are looking to hear from “anyone who may have noticed any young men acting suspiciously” along Mulgrave Street late Saturday/early Sunday to contact Roxboro garda station, or the garda confidential line. Fingerprints and footprints were found at the scene, which will also form part of the garda investigation, along with house to house enquiries.
Paul Foley, acting director of environment services at Limerick City Council, said they are “continuing to assess the situation”, which has been “very upsetting” for families. The graveyard dates back to 1855 and many of the damaged headstones contained historical and heritage features.
“Some of the damaged headstones date back to the 19th century and some would have been protected structures. We are happy to give any support to the families affected, and will deal with all queries as compassionately as we can,” said Mr Foley.
He stressed that the graveyard, which covers a site of 20 acres and some 7,000 graveyards, is safe for relatives of deceased loves one to visit. “Hundreds of people visit the graveyard every day,” he added. While the cemetery is locked at night, a pedestrian pathway runs through the Mulgrave Street graveyard which remains open for safety reasons, in case someone may be locked inside after dusk. Mr Foley said the council will examine security measures at the graveyard in light of the most recent events. He said while CCTV cameras are situated outside the graveyard, they capture footage inside the graveyard also. Fianna Fail city councillor Kieran O’Hanlon says something needs to be done to improve security at Mount Saint Lawrence where there have been other incidents of anti-social behaviour.