A Donegal priest has threatened to remove gaudy headstones from a local cemetery after introducing strict graveyard regulations.

Buncrana parish priest Fr John Walsh has warned his flock he will remove any large headstones, statues and trinkets from graves if they do not conform to strict new graveyard rules.

He said: “We can’t be having headstones in the shape of [Ford] Transit vans and all sorts.

“People should check before they spend thousands on the wrong one. It will be a saving for them in the long run.”

The Irish Times reports that the Donegal cleric has also advised parishioners not to close any deal with monumental sculptors without first obtaining approval from the parish for their chosen memorial.

Fr Walsh informed parishioners at Sunday Mass that 25-year-old rules governing local cemeteries were being revised and updated.

The new rules have been brought in to cope with ever-decreasing capacity of cemeteries and new minimalist 'American-style lawn graves,' according to the paper.

Parishioners have also been told to respect the sanctity of the cemetery by not eating or drinking or talking loudly within the grounds.

Fr Walsh added: “Visitors must observe that the cemeteries are sacred places and act accordingly, avoiding any loud or boisterous talking, loitering on the grounds or in any of the buildings, bringing refreshments into the cemeteries or consuming them on the grounds.”

The maximum height of headstones at the parish’s two cemeteries has been set at four feet with an exception for Celtic crosses that can rise to eight feet.

The report says double-width graves have been banned in favour of single (8ft x 4ft) graves with a maximum depth for two interments except where more are requested.