Dismay and a deep sense of outrage have followed the recent discovery that the Famine Graveyard in Newcastle West, Co Limerick has been desecrated, the Limerick Leader reports. 

“It is absolutely shameful,” Liam O’Mahony, a member of the graveyard committee said. “This could not be an accident.”

The discovery was made two weekends ago. Two statues, one of Our Lady, the other of the Sacred Heart were found smashed to pieces on the ground beside the altar table.

Also smashed was the Perspex sheeting which protected the statues, which stood in a niche below the altar.

The statues were originally given as a gift to the graveyard by the late Tom Davis, who was a long-time chairman of the graveyard committee. The statues had only recently been repaired and refurbished and the weekend before had been re-blessed as part of the November graveyard ceremonies.

“It is very hard to fathom what is behind this,” O’Mahony said. “This would appear to be blatant desecration.”

Both he and his colleagues on the graveyard committee are appalled at the act.

“Quite apart from being upsetting to the members of the public, this is the graveyard of the most under-privileged, who deserve a bit of respect in death, respect that was not shown them in life,” O’Mahony said.

"The graveyard committee began its work of restoring the graveyard about 20 years ago," O’Mahony explained. "At the time, it was in a very, very bad state of disrepair," he added.

“It was a field with a cross in it,” he said, with nothing to mark it as a graveyard. This is the burial ground of the poorest of the poor,” he added.