Complaints made over ‘enormous’ headstones erected in Irish cemeteries

One grave was estimated to cost €119,000 by a Ballinasloe councillor.
Robert Kindregan
Robert Kindregan

15.27 29 Jan 2024

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Complaints made over ‘enormous...

Complaints made over ‘enormous’ headstones erected in Irish cemeteries

Robert Kindregan
Robert Kindregan

15.27 29 Jan 2024

Share this article

‘Enormous marble structures’ are being erected overnight in graveyards and bothering locals, according to a Galway councillor.

On Lunchtime Live today, Ballinasloe Cllr Michael Connolly questioned how some extravagant headstones are built – pointing out how one structure cost €119,000.

There has also been widespread breaching of height restrictions at graveyards, according to Cllr Connolly, who said it is not just in Ballinasloe where this is an issue.


“Contractors have come in the middle of the night to erect gravestones without consent or consultation of any kind with cemetery staff,” he said.

“It’s not just in Ballinasloe, there are structures in Mountbellew, there are structures that I’ve seen recently in a very predominant rural area in Williamstown.”

“They are just out of keeping with the normal headstones that we are accustomed to.”


The Fianna Fáil councillor said he regularly receives complaints from locals in relation to headstone size.

“They are enormous, enormous marble structures which I’m sure people have seen photographs of,” said Cllr Connolly.

“The height varies from place to place, but it’s not so much the height – it’s the scale and mass of the structure over the grave.

“They have changed and evolved over time from being granite to marble, etc.”

Complaints made over 'enormous' structures at Irish graveyards A large number of marble memorial stones on a grave in an Irish graveyard. Image: Stephen Barnes/Religion / Alamy Stock Photo

Cllr Connolly said he is unsure how the headstones are being paid for.

“There are lots of people who maybe can’t afford to erect a headstone over their loved ones or it may take a number of years to organise it.

“But, in these instances, we have seen structures that are worth in the region of €119,000.

“It just begs the question of what’s going on here – how can people afford this type of stuff?”

Traveller community

Traveller rights activist Martin Mahon from Tralee told Lunchtime Live that headstones are a key aspect of the community’s culture.

“They are one of the very few communities who still value religion very much so,” he said.

“It’s very much passed on from parents to children and that whole culture of Travellers from the 70s through the 80s – it’s still very much pushed on.

“We still care very much for religion and the cemetery and paying homage to our deceased ones is very much part of our culture."

Other issues

Mr Mahon said there were more important things for people to worry about, other than headstones.

“It’s quite shocking that with everything going on in the country they are throwing this at us, making an issue of how we respect our loved ones,” he said.

“It’s quite sad that people are making an issue of this.”

Mr Mahon added that issues in relation to breaches of height restrictions could be dealt with through having a conversation with the individuals involved.

You can listen back here:

Main image: Headstones in an Irish grave. Image: Stephen Barnes/Graveyards / Alamy Stock Photo

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Ballinasloe Cemetery Councillor Gravestone Headstone Lunchtime Live Martin Mahon Traveller Rights Travellers

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