Step in making city cemetery a tourist attraction
By Nick Rabbitts
Plans to turn the Mount St. Lawrence Cemetery into a tourist attraction are gathering pace, with a new guidebook expected to be released later this year.
Members of the city council’s environment committee this week saw local historian Dr Matthew Potter of Mary Immaculate College outlining plans – costing €10,000 – to provide information panels and guidebooks to the graveyard.
Opened in 1849 by Bishop of Limerick, many famous Limerick people are buried in the graveyard, including former mayors Michael O’Callaghan and George Clancy.
The Bard of Thomond Michael Hogan was also laid to rest there, as were more recently the former Limerick Leader journalist Seamus O Cinneide and Labour man Jim Kemmy.
One of the largest open spaces in Limerick, the 16-acre site has been administered by the City Council since 1969.
Dr. Potter said it is envisaged Mount St. Lawrence could become a tourist attraction, in the same manner Glasnevin Cemetery is in Dublin.
Plans mooted for the graveyard include a social history of Limerick, the art and architecture of the chapel and the monuments there, as well as details of the landscape, flora and fauna which are there.Dr Potter
added that at the moment, in conjunction with Limerick city Council, he is trying to digitise the records
of the cemetery, as well as carrying out photography of the headstones
for a large archive.
Interviews will also be conducted with staff employed at the graveyard both past and present, and the relatives of those who are deceased.
A guidebook is expected by late this year, and this will be followed by searchable databases, and then a major book
, Dr Potter told the meeting.
Members welcomed the proposals. But Independent councillor John Gilligan said the “elephant in the room” is the condition of the neo-Gothic chapel in the graveyard.
“What is going to be done about it? Are we to hope that it goes away. It is going to have to be looked at some stage. We have to spend some money on it” he said.
Fianna Fail councillor Kieren O’Hanlon predicted the chapel will be of interest to people both home and abroad, and praised Dr Potter for doing “a great job with limited resources.”
Cllr. Maurice Quinlivan, of Sinn Fein, added: “This can be a major tourist attraction. Whenever I go abroad, I will always meet people who tell me how they want to see the graves of the diaspora.”
Former councillor Sean Griffin, who sits as a sectoral interest on the environment committee added: “It is fascinating to contemplate what this will look like. I am very grateful that this is happening.”