The lower section of the Kilteevogue graveyard was flooded last weekend and over 20 graves were submerged under water
Shocked parishioners in Glenfin are this week deliberating how best to deal with ongoing flooding issues at their local graveyard following a torrential downpour on Friday night and Saturday.
It turned a section of the ancient graveyard of Kilteevogue (Cill Taobhóg) on the banks of the River Finn, into a giant pool right beside the fine facilities of Glenfin GAA fields and clubhouse.
This tranquil burial ground dates back to 1709 and has had periods of controversy down through the years concerning the topic of both protestant and catholic burials in the same cemetery; but flooding, well it's an ongoing dilemma.
It still remains a beautiful and very well maintained resting place for anyone in the area who wish to be buried here.
For a number of years now the parish also has a second, newer graveyard called Cill Mhuire which is closer to the parish church, Our Lady of Perpetual Succour.
However, last Friday night's flooding shattered that for over 20 families as they awoke on Saturday morning to find the lower section of the graveyard had been flooded and many graves were submerged under water. Local parish priest, Very Rev Lorcan Sharkey, said this was not the first time they had had to deal with such an incident.
“We had a lot of flooding in the area and this happening to our graveyard is not uncommon. We’ve got what the fishermen call a spate river so there's nothing we can do about it. That’s the nature of the Finn, the water rises and falls very quickly. It’s fed by hundreds of little mountain streams up in the Bluestacks and it rises amazingly quickly and goes down equally as fast.
“It doesn't do any harm because by the time it comes into the graveyard it’s dead water, not moving. It’s not as if the river was flowing through it,” he said.
He recalled the same thing happened in December three years ago when the graveyard flooded twice in the space of three weeks.
“The people here know there is nothing much we can do about it because of where those graves are situated. It’s beside the river and that’s the way it is. There are no walls or boundaries we can use.”
Fr Sharkey said while the flooding happened at the older of the church’s two graveyards, families still use it and there are approximately five or six plots along the river that are not used yet.
“The part that floods is mainly the older part of the graveyard behind where the old ruins of the church are. The soil in that part of the graveyard goes back thousands of years, it’s very silty ground, obviously stuff that washed down over many thousands of years.”
He added no damage to the graves had been reported but revealed that at times when graves were dug in that section of the graveyard there was evidence that water was present.
“As it’s down beside the river you find water seeps in as it’s below the river’s water level. I’ve known cases where people would have to go down the morning of a burial to take the water out of a freshly dug grave,” he said.
A spokesperson for Donegal County Council said any reports in relation to flood-related damage to Kilteevogue Cemetery would be responded to accordingly. A spokesperson for the HSE said as far as she knew the graveyard flooding issue did not come within the scope of its responsibilities.
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