UP TO 20 gravestones were vandalised and destroyed under the cover of darkness late last week in County Cork.
A number of family gravestones were targeted overnight in St Catherine's Cemetery, Kilcully, Co Cork, with the damage discovered by visitors to the graveyard early the next morning, Friday January 3rd.
Photographs of the damage show entire gravestones knocked over, statues decapitated, grave ornaments broken, and empty bottles of alcohol littering the scene.
Family members of those buried at the cemetery flocked to the graveyard as the news broke in order to check the condition of their loved ones' graves.
20 HEADSTONES RUINED IN KILKULLY
Major damage took place in St Catherine's cemetery, Kilcully again this morning. About 20 headstones were destroyed. We have been in contact with a number of families who have loved ones buried in the Graveyard.
Have your family been impacted? pic.twitter.com/zgIL7hYy02
— Neil Prendeville (@NeilRedFM) January 3, 2020
A public meeting is due to take place on Saturday, 11th January, to discuss the vandalism and the measures which can be undertaken to ensure it does not happen again, such as installing CCTV cameras within the graveyard.
Speaking to Cork newspaper Echo Live, local man and campaigner for the elderly Paddy O'Brien described the heartbreaking atmosphere as families arrived at St Catherine's to check on their loved ones.
"It's an awful sight," Mr O'Brien told Echo Live.
"The place was packed. I'm going to hundreds of funerals here and I've never seen so many cars. I've never seen so many people upset, crying with tears.
"It's appalling. I was looking at one grave, I spoke to the family. Her wish was that she would be buried under a tree. The whole thing is gone, destroyed. They've taken away the stone.
"There are families here crying. My own wife is buried here."
Gardaí are currently investigating the incident but there have been no arrests reported so far.