An historic Cork city cemetery is set for a major extension that will include the city’s first dedicated eco-burial site and specific mini-plots for the burial of cremated remains.

Plans for the extension of St Catherine’s Cemetery in Kilcully, on the city’s northside, which have been on the cards for some time but which were delayed by the pandemic, are now being finalised. 

The details will be published soon for public consultation as part of the Part 8 planning process.

St Catherine’s has around 6,000 plots, with several hundred vacant plots still available for purchase for immediate burials. 

The Irish Examiner has learned that the extension will provide an additional 2,000 plots — increasing the capacity of the cemetery by a third.

It has been earmarked for a five-acre council-owned landbank to the west of the existing cemetery and will include an estimated 800 smaller plots for the interment of urns containing ashes or cremated remains. 

It is estimated that around a quarter of all burials in the city’s cemeteries are of urns containing ashes that are placed in existing family-owned plots. 

Eco burials

An area of the extension will also be set aside to facilitate eco-burials.

Such eco-burial plots are marked not by concrete surrounds or headstones, but by small simple markers and the planting of a native Irish tree, if requested; some graves go unmarked.

And unlike traditional cemeteries where plots are laid out in a linear style, eco-graveyard plots are laid out irregularly, linked by winding grassy avenues. 

The areas grow to become a living, native Irish woodland and wildflower meadow.

Council spokesman, Stephen Scully, said St Catherine’s Cemetery is the most popular and in-demand cemetery on the northside of the city.

“The extension is required to extend its operational life,” Mr Scully said.

The council acquired the land adjoining it several years ago to facilitate future expansion, and we now want to deliver on that and extend the life of the cemetery

The extension will also include proposals for additional car park spaces, and additional security cameras.

The city is also considering in the medium term installing in more cemeteries columbariums — a structure, usually a wall, in which urns containing cremated remains are stored or displayed in designated spaces called niches.

The city inherited its only columbarium when it assumed responsibility for St James’s Cemetery in Chetwynd following the city boundary extension in 2019. 

The last major extension of a city cemetery occurred at St Michael’s Cemetery in Blackrock almost two decades ago.

Plots are available at St Catherine’s, St Michael’s Cemetery in Blackrock, and at Chetwynd, where the average nine-foot by four-foot plot costs around €2,000.

Once the St Catherine’s extension proposal is published, members of the public will have several weeks to make submissions. 

Responses to the feedback will be included in a report to city councillors, who will decide on whether or not to grant planning for the project.

Pending that decision, it is hoped that work could start before the end of this year or early next year.


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By Kelli