West of Ireland’s first crematorium planned for heart of Tuam
By TONY GALVIN
TUAM could soon host the only crematorium in the Western region if a local businessman gets permission to build one in the heart of the town. Planning permission is being sought for the facility and the man behind the project says Galway Co Council is enthusiastic as cremation will alleviate growing pressure on graveyard space.
Well-known businessman Tommy Varden Snr is promoting the venture and hopes to have the crematorium open as early as possible in the New Year.
“I’ve been thinking about this for a while. At the moment the only services on offer are in Dublin, Cork and Belfast. At a time of increasing demand for cremation, in Britain it accounts of 77 per cent of the market, I don’t see why we shouldn’t have a facility here in Tuam to cater for the entire West coast from Donegal to Clare and a lot of the Midlands as well,” he told The Herald.
He added that Galway Co Council is very enthusiastic about the proposal as it would help alleviate the problem of finding land to expand graveyards. This has become an issue in many areas and with tightened budgets, the council would like to see the pressure taken off existing graveyard space which the availability of the cremation option would facilitate.
Currently, approximately 11 per cent of funerals in Ireland are cremations and the numbers are increasing by 1,000 a year.
“One day recently I checked the death notices in the Irish Independent and of 30, there were five cremations.
“I hear it more frequently on Galway Bay fm’s death notices as well. This is a growing market. The Catholic Church no longer has a problem with it and with the increased number of foreigners living here, many families will opt for cremation so they can bring their loved ones’ ashes back home,” Tommy explained.
He added that he has been told to expect objections but feels they will be overcome. There is no pollution involved in the process, he says. “The mechanism takes care of all that. There’d be more smoke after a papal election than from a modern crematorium,” he added.
Tommy already owns the land and is ready to go as soon as he gets planning permission. His engineer, former Tuam Town Engineer, Oliver Higgins, is handling the project.
The proposal is to locate the facility at the rear of the Rustic Vaults pub on Vicar Street and it will be accessed via Stable Lane where the Mall Theatre is located.
‘Demand is there’
“We’ve done our homework and the demand is there. We reckon it will cost about €600 and people can either take the ashes away with them or place them in Columbarium gardens which are part of the facility.”
The planning application is to build a two-storey building with a ceremony room, committal area, chapel, prayer room and staff areas. The crematorium itself will be on the ground floor. The first floor will hold what is termed “reflection space” and toilets.
A gated entrance to a car park is included. “All hard and soft landscaping will consist of paving and gravel and semi-mature trees with appropriate seating, signage and public lighting, the application reads.
There will also be two private Columbarium gardens (where cremated remains can be stored). The planning application can be viewed at County Buildings, Prospect Hill, Galway.
“This is the way of the future. I’m not sure about it for myself but plenty of people want the option,” Tommy concluded.