Arran’s forgotten cemetery

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A man is unable to complete work at the last resting place of his mum because of conditions at a forgotten Arran cemetery.

Retired Willie Currie is unable to reinstate his parents’ headstone which has collapsed in the waterlogged Kilmory Cemetery. The headstone and that of a neighbouring grave were taken down because of their crumbling foundations. And the ground is so wet that the grave dug is still clearly visible.

The waterlogged site where Mr Currie’s parents are buried in Kilmory  Cemetery. 01_Bcemetery01

A number of other gravestones in the southend cemetery have collapsed or have council stickers on them, first implemented nearly three years ago across the island, telling families they have failed a safety inspection.

However, Mr Currie, who lives in Shiskine, and buried his mother Murdina less than a month ago, has spent the last few weeks being given the runaround by North Ayrshire Council to get permission to re-erect the gravestone so he can have it inscribed with his mother’s name beside his father Phil, who died 36 years ago. His mother was 87.

Mr Currie told the Banner: ‘Kilmory really is the forgotten cemetery of Arran. The whole site needs drained, the ground is saturated and is so wet that reeds have started growing. This is not a new problem it has been going on for years, but nothing has been done.’

As a result, a number of headstones have collapsed, including that of Mr Currie’s parents.

He continued: ‘I offered to repair it myself after I buried my mum last month, but the council refused, saying I was not authorised to do the work. They said that while I had paid for the lair, the council still owned the ground.’

Mr Currie and former council worker Davie Crossley, who used to dig graves at Kilmory Cemetery, blamed the collapse on the fixing of the headstones to the foundations, which are the responsibility of North Ayrshire Council.

Anyone erecting a headstone has to pay the council £152 for the foundation as well as £254 plus an island tax of £90 to a stonemason to erect the stone.

Mr Crossley said that years ago they would put in a foundation ‘for a few bob’. And he criticised the thin layer of cement used to hold the headstone in place. ‘There are headstones over there, he said pointing to the old graveyard, ‘which are 300 years old and haven’t moved.’

In a further blow, Mr Currie asked if he could have the gravestone engraved while it was lying on the ground, but was told it had to be erected first. He added that the son of the couple in the neighbouring grave lives in Aberdeen and would be ‘horrified’ when he came back to find the headstone collapsed.

Mr Currie’s parents are buried in what in known as the new cemetery. However, a third site at the church has recently started to be used.

He said: ‘This site was supposed to be drained before burials started, but it is just as wet as the other site.’

Mr Crossley said he remembered the cemetery being drained 60 years ago but subsequent drainage changes had made that obsolete.

Mr Currie added: ‘The council have to take this situation seriously and get the cemetery into a reasonable condition where family members can visit their loved ones without worrying about what they will find when they get here.’

A North Ayrshire Council spokesman said: ‘We are aware of a complaint regarding drainage at Kilmory Cemetery and are currently investigating and exploring possible remedial measures.’