EAST Clare councillor Joe Cooney is pressing the National Monuments Service to change its guidelines on buffer zones around archaeological finds.
Kiluran Cemetery Committee has just been refused permission to extend Kiluran Cemetery in O’Callaghan’s Mills due to a discovery of “significant archaeological features” at the site.
The National Monuments Service is willing to allow the extension but only if there is a 75m buffer zone and that would bring the extension out of the committee’s land and into another landowner’s property.
Councillor Cooney said it looks to be the end of plans to extend the cemetery but will press for a change in guidelines nationally.
This week, Clare County Council refused the application for the extension to the more than 100-year-old cemetery on the grounds that, “it is considered that to permit the proposed development would injure or interfere with the historic remains and setting of the adjoining archaeological monuments”.
“It’s very, very disappointing,” said Councillor Cooney. “We’re not going to appeal the decision because there’s no point and, in fairness to the council, they gave us every bit of support that they could.
“Dick Cronin, the heritage officer, looked at it and he was hoping that we would get the extension. There is roughly 20 new burial places left in the graveyard. That’s roughly what’s there at the moment but, unfortunately, National Monuments stood in our way,” he said.
“An archaeologist’s report had to be done, which cost us a good bit of money. They felt there was something in the ground, which to be honest, amused us. We didn’t think there looked to be anything there but that was immaterial.
“The National Monuments came out and they looked at it and we thought that we would get away with a buffer zone of about 20 to 25m and then put the extension on but, unfortunately, when they checked out with the archaeologist they wanted us to move 75m from the existing graveyard and to start a new graveyard, which meant that we went out of the land we have and into another person’s,” Councillor Cooney explained.
“It just wasn’t feasible then. It looks like that is the end of plans to extend Kiluran. We won’t be giving up but we won’t be spending any more money on it either.
“Kiluran is a lovely graveyard, well maintained and well looked after by the community. They’ve been doing a lot in it and keep it up to standard.
“I will now be looking for the National Monuments Service to change their guidelines and hopefully, in the future, we will be able to get this extension onto Kiluran,” he said.