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Saint James’s Graveyard Feasibility Study

St. James's Church and Cemetery, James's Street, Dublin 8, Ireland

There was a Public Consultation Meeting regarding the old St. James’s Graveyard (to the rear of the former Lighting world) held in St. James’s Parochial Hall. Dublin City Council sent a team of experts to discuss the possibilities for the future of the graveyard, with the local community. Representing D.C.C. were Bernard Seymour, Managing Director of BSLA, Landscape Architects: Sean Cassidy and Colum O’Keefe BSLA, Conservation Architects: Grainne Shaffrey and Catriona Noonan, Ecologist: Paul Scott and Archaeologist Claire Walsh. There was a good attendance of local people who put forward some very useful suggestions.

History: It is a graveyard with a long history, going back to the 15th century, with the first recorded burial in 1495. In 1707, a new church was under construction at St. James’s and in 1761, this church collapsed. This was repaired but was replaced by another church in 1859.The final service in this church was held in 1963. In 1984, Lighting World started trading in the building and this company closed in 2009.

In 1987/88 renovation and a clean – up was carried out by FÁS. Local FÁS workers did Trojan work in clearing the graveyard but, unfortunately, due to lack of funding, it reverted to a wilderness. The ownership of the graveyard has now been transferred to Dublin City Council from RCB.

Ecology: The ecologist outlined the importance of graveyards as areas of biodiversity in an urban setting, where a range of flora and fauna can flourish, undisturbed. There is an opportunity to clear out noxious weeds, to re- seed with wildflowers, to protect existing tree cover and to retain St. James’s Graveyard as a unique green space area in an urban environment.

Archaeology: The archaeologist stated that the site is included on the Register of Monuments and Place for Dublin and is the location of a medieval church and burial place.

Members of the local community referred to the fact that many have relatives and ancestors buried in this graveyard and have been unable to gain access to the graves, due to its dangerous condition. The D.C.C. representatives felt that a clearing of the undergrowth could be carried out. However, pathways needed to be constructed to give safe access to the graves and this process would take approximately one year, depending on available funding. The local people were anxious that the remaining headstones would not be removed and stacked against the walls and also that once the project was started, it would be completed. There was an assurance from the reps that this was their intention.

All suggestions were written down by D.C.C. who will convene another meeting, at a later date, to update the community on the progress. It is hoped that when renovation is completed, the graveyard will be maintained so as not to return to its former state of disrepair, as happened after the FÁS clean-up.

Fountain News DigitalThis article was originally published in:
Fountain News Digital – November 2010 (Issue 1)

We are re-publishing all articles from our past newsletter, Fountain News Digital, and you can view all completed newsletters here. There were nine issues published in total between 2010 and 2012.

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