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Galway Airport cemetery plan could be a flyer

Galway’s deceased may ‘fly high’ in future if a proposal to build a cemetery at Galway Airport is progressed.

City Councillor Terry O’Flaherty (Ind) has suggested that Galway City and County Council, who jointly own the airport, should investigate the possibility of using its land at Carnmore as a new burial ground.

Cllr O’Flaherty said there were 45 hectares of land in public ownership in Carnmore that could accommodate a large graveyard to meet Galway’s future burial needs.

The suggestion was made during Monday’s City Council meeting where it was agreed to progress plans for a new cemetery for the city at Dublin Road.

Jimmy Callan, Senior Engineer with the City Council, said he would be in a position to bring a Part 8 planning application (where councillors must vote on a decision) in three months’ time for a new cemetery at the 1.7-hectare site on Dublin Road.

It will have around 1,600 plots, which could facilitate 3,200 burials. It would have a further 400 urn plots that could accommodate 1,600 burials. It would also include a memorial garden with space for cremated remains.

At the current rate of burials, this would facilitate burials for Galway City for 13 years.

Cllr Donal Lyons (Ind) said he was concerned that there was just eight years of burials left at Rahoon Cemetery, and he urged the Council to look for burial grounds west of the Corrib.

Cllr Colette Connolly (Ind) was one of a number of councillors who raised concerns about additional traffic, and illegal parking at the proposed new graveyard during funerals. A proposal by her to stop progressing with this plan was defeated on a vote of 14-2.

Mr Callan explained that access to the cemetery would be through a shared access at the entrance to the Connacht Hotel. He said hotel management was aware of this and had not raised any ‘red flags’ about it.

There would be 60 car parking spaces in the cemetery, plus during funerals, a further 60 cars could park inside, he said. Funerals generally take place at 11am when traffic was quieter, Mr Callan said.

Chief Executive Brendan McGrath explained that the Bus Connects design team that are planning a new bus and cycle lane along the Dublin Road, one of the main arteries into the city, are aware of the Council’s plans to use that site as a graveyard.

He said that the Council did a desktop study of 47 city sites with potential to be used as graveyards. Many on the west side of the city were ruled out due to the rock type, geology or hydrology issues.

It was whittled down to 13, and then this site at Dublin Road was chosen as the preferred option. Councillors voted to proceed with it in 2019, he said.

Mr Callan said he would engage with residents and other stakeholders once he has drawings to present.

In response to Cllr O’Flaherty’s suggestion to look for a burial ground in the county, including Galway Airport, Cllr John Connolly (FF) said people want their loved ones buried nearby.

The Dublin Road land is zoned Recreational and Amenity. It hasn’t been licensed to a sports club since 2018, but was used as an overflow pitch when other Council pitches are unplayable.

A motion by Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind) asking the Council to source an alternative pitch to compensate for the loss of this land to a new cemetery was unanimously agreed.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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