Independent councillor, Ailish McManus has called for the creation of a database of graveyard records in Athlone.
Speaking at last week’s Municipal District meeting (January 8 ), Cllr McManus asked the council to request funding from the Office of Public Works (OPW ) to create the database.
Cllr McManus said she received a representation recently from somebody looking to mark the grave of a relative who had died in 1940. Due to the fact that no record existed of the grave, finding it proved an incredibly difficult task.
Cllr McManus added that members of the public could work alongside mapping professionals to create the database.
The motion received support from all sides of the chamber. Fianna Fáil councillor, Frankie Keena commended Cllr McManus for raising the issue. He said there are graveyards in the locality with no records whatsoever due to them being destroyed long ago.
His party colleague, Mayor Aengus O’Rourke, referenced an RTE programme about Irish people working overseas which showed how an expat living in America had undertaken a similar task with the use of drones. He said while it would undoubtedly be a difficult and testing process, it would certainly be a most worthwhile one.
Cllr John Dolan (FG ) said such an initiative could tie in with the large number of Americans and other nationalities who come to Ireland each year to discover their family heritage.
It was determined that a letter will be sent to the OPW requesting funding.