THE KILDARE OBSERVER NOVEMBER 20 1886
KILLASHEE BURIAL GROUND
Dr Hamilton Burke, Local Government Inspector, held an inquiry at the Court-House, Naas, on Wednesday, respecting the application to have the Killashee burial ground closed against further interments.
There was a very large attendance of persons interested.
Dr Burke said he would open the inquiry by reading the order, which appeared in last week’s OBSERVER. The inquiry had been ordered by a representation from the Board of Guardians, founded on a report by the Sanitary Officer, Dr Smyth. It had been represented that the graveyard was in a very overcrowded condition. When he (Dr Burke) had time he always made it his duty to visit those graveyards, and he should say that he endorsed the opinion of their repected [sic] medical officer, Dr Smyth, in every respect. It was very creditable of them to attend with the desire to see proper respect paid to the ashes of their forefathers.
Mr J J O’Mahony, solicitor, said he might mention that he appeared for a number of the parties. He supposed that he might cross-examine the witnesses.
Dr Burke ― Anything you may want to ask I will put for you.
Dr Joseph Smyth deposed that he was medical officer of the district. He had personally inspected the graveyard and sent a report to the board of guardians on the subject, as follows: ―
“In compliance with your request to inspect the graveyard of Killashee and report on its condition, I visited it on Friday last. It is about twenty yards distant from the residences of two families, and is so situated that the surface of the ground is on a level with the top of the bedroom windows of these houses. I found no offensive odour, but the people living near complained very much, indeed, of the offensiveness during certain states of the weather. It seems to be completely filled with graves. It is so overgrown with rank vegetation, consisting principally of nettles, as to interfere with the drying of the soil, and so over-shadowed with densely planted blackthorn and woody shrub as to shut out the sun and cause stagnation of unwholesome air. I would recommend that these be all removed, and that for the absorption of the products of decomposition the most rapidly growing trees and shrubs be planted in such a way as not to interfere with the free influence of air and sunshine. I had the depth of the soil over seven of the graves measured. The first was 42 inches, second 36, third 18, fourth 15, fifth 18, sixth 14, seventh 18. It should be borne in mind that in a graveyard crowded and centuries old, the earth covering, even when abundant, can only be an imperfect sanitary agent. I have no hesitation in reporting to the board that, in my opinion, the burial ground at Killashee should be no longer open for unrestricted interment now that the public cemetery at Naas is practically ready to relieve it.”
Mr O’Mahony wished to ask who were the persons that complained?
Dr Burke said he would explain. Major Moore represented the state of the graveyard, and the board of guardians got a report from Dr Smyth.
Mr O’Mahony said Dr Smyth did not state he got any offensive smell, but that two persons got it.
Dr Smyth said the gardener and steward got it.
Mr O’Mahony ― Did you see any vacant places on the left?
Dr Smyth ― It was so overcrowded with vegetation that it was obscured.
Major R St Leger Moore deposed that the graveyard was situate on his property. He had seen graves open. Most of the graves had a large number of bones, and, in some cases, skulls exposed. They had to be removed to make way for interments. After rain or in warm weather the effluvia was very unpleasant.
Mr Robert Leonard corroborated the evidence.
Mr E. Fay wanted to know if Major Moore wished the graveyard to be closed.
Major Moore said that as there seemed to be some misapprehension in Mr Fay’s mind, he wanted to state that he had no wish beyond what was necessary for sanitary arrangements. Dr MacCabe was down and inspected the graveyard and said it was in a totally unsanitary condition. He was in the habit of trimming the bushes in the graveyard every year, but Dr M’Cabe advised him not to do so, as by not doing so it helped to keep down the effluvia. Some years ago he took steps to have the graveyard closed, but at the earnest request of some people he took no steps in the matter until a graveyard had been provided for the people of Naas. In the meantime interments went on at the rate of about four-and-twenty a year, which did not improve it. He had no wish to close it, his whole and sole reason being on sanitary grounds. He had a great deal of illness from time to time. The effluvia was excessively unpleasant. The ground at the side of the church was raised from two to three feet, in fact it was banked up. On account of that it was impossible to keep the church dry.
Dr Burke said any one who could prove a prescriptive right would be allowed to continue burials. He would be very sorry to see the ashes of his father or grandfather thrown up with such disrespect as that.
Mr Edward Fay deposed he was conversant with the condition of the graveyard. He had been present at interments occasionally. He had a plot of ground there belonging to his family about the breadth of two ordinary graves. There was an interment in it within the last three years.
Mr Matthew Fay deposed he was conversant with the graveyard. He saw graves opened, and some bones had to be taken up, his wife, and six children. The plot was about nine feet by six. There was no grave within eight feet of his plot.
Mr O’Mahony said he also claimed for two brothers of Mr Fay, who were not there themselves, but he would give evidence on their behalf.
Dr Burke said he could not take such evidence. They could forward an affidavit to the Local Government Board.
John Corcoran claimed a right of interment in Killashee. His ancestors were buried there.
Mr Robert Murphy claimed through his wife a right of interment for his family.
Mr Jas Brennan claimed a right of interment for himself and his family. His father and mother were buried there. The plot was eight feet by six feet. He claimed for himself, his wife, and five children. He would prefer the claim of his aunt being allowed to any other.
Michael Anderson claimed for himself and his wife and children. His ancestors were all buried there.
Mr Michael Patterson claimed a right of interment for himself, his wife, and two children. The plot was about seven feet by four.
Mr James White claimed a right of interment on the ground that his ancestors and children were buried there. The plot was about seven feet long and five feet wide. He claimed for his children, three in number.
Baron de Robeck claimed on account of his ancestors being buried there. There was a railing round the plot. He wished to have also a right to keep the plot in order.
Mr Christopher Higgins claimed a right of interment on the ground of his ancestors being buried there. The plot was about eight feet by six. He claimed also for his brother and mother.
Michael Doogan deposed he was the owner of a plot of ground in Killashee. His father and mother were buried there. The plot was about 9 ft by 6 ft. He claimed for himself.
Thomas M’Clean claimed a right of interment for himself in the graveyard. The plot was about 6 ft by 5.
Thomas M’Donald claimed a right of interment. His plot was about 10 ft by 8ft. All his people were interred there. He claimed for himself and his son.
John Murphy claimed for himself and his mother. All his friends were interred there.
James Anderson claimed for himself. His father and mother were buried there.
Thomas Kilmurry claimed a right for himself and his wife. All his relations were buried there. The plot is 10 ft by 6ft.
James Nolan claimed for himself and his brother, Thomas Nolan. The plot was 9 ft by 9 ft.
Mr P Downes claimed a right of interment for himself and family, four in number, and also a sister. His ancestors were all interred there.
Patrick Doran claimed for himself and his wife. The plot was about 10 feet square.
John Behan claimed for his mother, brothers and sisters. The plot is 9 ft by 5 ft.
Philip Green claimed a right of interment for himself and his three children. The plot is 9ft by 6ft.
Julia Kehoe claimed for herself and her neice [sic]. She could not tell the size of the plot.
Laurence Hart claimed for himself and his wife and six children. All his ancestors were buried there. The plot was about 16ft by 6.
Bernard Quinn claimed for himself. All his people were buried there. The plot was 9ft by 6ft.
Thomas Dwyer claimed for himself, wife and five children. The plot was 7ft by 6ft.
Thomas Higgins claimed a right of interment. He claimed for himself, his wife, and two children. All his ancestors were buried there. The plot was 9ft by 6ft.
James Headon claimed for himself and his sister.
Richard Higgins claimed for himself and wife and two children. The plot was 9ft by 6ft.
Michael Green claimed for himself, wife and three children. The plot was 9ft by 7ft.
James Dodd claimed a right for himself and his sister. The plot was 9ft by 7ft.
Andrew Kelly claimed a right of burial for himself. The plot was 12ft by 7ft.
John Higgins, junior, claimed for his father, mother, and sister. His father could not attend.
John Lewis claimed for himself, wife, and four children. The plot was about 9ft by 4ft.
James Dawson claimed for himself and his sister. The plot was 9ft by 6ft.
John Kelly claimed for himself, his brother, and sister. The plot was about 9ft by 7ft.
John Gaul claimed for himself, wife and two children.
Thomas Higgins claimed a right for himself. His mother was buried there. His father was buried in Tipper, but he would wish to be buried with his mother.
Catherine Byrne claimed for herself. Her people were all buried there.
Eliza Kavanagh claimed for herself. Her father and mother were interred there.
Ellen Byrne claimed for herself. Her father, husband and children were interred there.
Patrick Farrell claimed for himself and a daughter.
Michael Gorman claimed for himself. His people were buried there for 120 years.
The enquiry then closed.
28 February 2014.