By Sabrine Donohoe

Despite an increase in the annual budget for the maintenance of cemeteries in south Dublin, Deansgrange cemetery continues to fall into disrepair.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request made to Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council revealed that the maintenance budget of the three open cemeteries in the district, Deansgrange, Shanganagh and Kilgobbin, has been increasing since 2012.

Excluding staff wages, the budget reached €552,000 this year.

According to Anne Kinsella, staff officer Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, the budget allowance exclusive to Deansgrange cemetery was €1.1 million last year. This is including wages for staff.

The public toilets in Deansgrange were shut in 2018 and have remained closed ever since.

“In mid-2018 it was decided to close the toilets located at the back of the workmen’s yard due to the ceilings becoming unsafe.

“The delay in addressing the condition of the public toilets was and is down to money.”

Kinsella says that the budget for maintenance of the cemetery has been drastically cut over the past decade or so. This is despite the FOI figures saying otherwise.

“We did install modern toilets at the tea rooms (the ‘Tranquil Tearooms’ near the main entrance of the cemetery) in 2010,” she said.

A total of seven gravediggers are employed by the council. They work 44 hours per week, not including over-time for incomplete duties.

“Their duties include digging and filling in graves, gardening, grass cutting, hedge trimming, laying chippings on graves, filling up graves that have sunk and any other general maintenance that is required,” said Kinsella.

Areas behind large trees and in between grave plots however contain dead plants, weeds, dead Christmas wreaths, rubble, and some rubbish.

Fine Gael councillor Patricia Stewart, says that the she disagrees that the state of the cemetery has declined in recent years.

“As someone who attends Deansgrange cemetery regularly, I can say that it has actually shown a great deal of improvement over the past few years,” she says.

“There has been a huge amount of clearance of ivy and weeds in many of the areas near the Tranquil Tearooms.

“It is true, however, that there are areas where there is plenty of room for improvement.

“The team who look after the cemetery have plans to extend the scope of recent clearances but there isn’t an open purse to do much more than they are at present.

“The biggest problem that this cemetery has is that many of the graves are quite old and the families of those buried there are no longer alive, or have moved away, and the graves are not being maintained.

“To fill in a collapsed grave is difficult and very costly.”A