Well known Dundalk teacher and broadcaster Gerry Malone says he was ‘shocked’ when he happened upon the grave of his mother online.
Agnes Malone died in 2008 and was buried in Haggardstown cemetry.
Yet, unbeknownst to her family, the late Mrs Malone was one of hundreds of the deceased at the graveyard whose gravestone can now be viewed on line.
“I was searching for an acknowledgement in the Democrat, when I clicked on a link that brought me through to a picture of my mother’s gravestone,” says Gerry. “It was an awful shock.”
The displaying of cemetries online is part of new phenomenon of virtual cemetery, which allow visitors to look at gravestone online from anywhere in the world. Haggardstown graveyard is linked to the site, discoverever.com, who host the ‘virtual cemetries.’
“Look, I understand the reasoning behind it. It’s just that no permission was asked from me or any other family members.
“It’s a privacy issue. I feel this is an invasion of my family’s privacy. I realise that anyone can visit the cemetry in real life, but that’s not the point. No permission was sought.
“Could they not have announced this or given families the option to opt out?”
Mr Malone rang Parish Priest, Fr Brian Keenan, and registered his anger at their actions.
Speaking to the Dundalk Democrat, Fr Patrick Keenan said that “We have undertaken a number of improvements to the graveyard over the last year”, including a crypt for ashes, a Calvary scene and the planting of trees and said the online version of the graveyard was part of that. “Many local parishes have done the same” said Fr Keenan.
He also said that the decision to make the graveyard available online was announced last year in the church bulletin, and that no one had come forward with objections at the time.