Find a Cemetery

Local authorities and religious organisations typically run cemeteries and graveyards respectively in their area. The websites from the the county councils have different standards of helpful information, from the very helpful to the non-existent.

Natural Burial Grounds

Natural burial is a term used to describe the burial of human remains where the burial area creates habitat for wildlife or preserves existing habitat (woodland, species rich meadows, orchards, aquatic, sustainably managed farmland etc.) which are rich in flora and fauna.

Where a funeral precedes such burial, it would seek to minimise environmental impact by prohibiting embalming and, where a coffin is used, ensuring that this be made of natural, biodegradable materials.’

‘A Guide to Natural Burial’, Ken West

There are only two Natural Burial / Woodland burial sites in Ireland as per the map below. While in the UK there are >300.

Some points to consider

  • People choose this style of burial typically to be conscious of their final our impact on the environment and wish to be as careful in death as they have been during their lives. The coffin chosen is one which typically degrades naturally. In this way it does not release toxins into the ground and that are produced in an inconsiderate or unsustainable way.
  • Like all Cemeteries and Graveyards they must comply with all relevant legislation including planning and record keeping.
  • Embalmed bodies may not be accepted by some sites, but this is not the case in Ireland. Their rationale on this is that Embalming is thought of as dangerous to human health and the environment. N.B. Embalming is sometimes called ‘hygienic treatment’, however it is separate from the washing of the body in ‘Last offices’.
  • Single depth burials are the norm as the shallower a burial is, the less likely the body is to release methane. This is a powerful greenhouse gas that can be produced by deep, anaerobic burials. A shallow burial is the quickest way for a body to naturally degrade. So family graves tend to be side by side rather than one on top of the other.
  • Sustainable methods are used in maintaining natural burial grounds and the surroundings are kept as natural as possible to encourage biodiversity
  • In some instance a tree or other marker is used in place of the typical headstone. This is done to protect the natural appearance of burial grounds. Most member sites do not encourage memorialisation, nor leaving of items on the grave. This approach not only preserves the beauty of the landscape, but prevents complicated and costly maintenance issues, as well as avoiding hazards to wildlife and waste disposal problems.
  • Ultimately, it is not the grave that commemorates the life lived, it is the entire site.