Memorial to be unveiled at new Leck cemetery

A MEMORIAL will be unveiled at new Leck Cemetery early next month in honour of the hundreds of patients from St Conal’s Hospital who were buried there.
Deceased patients have been brought to the new cemetery at Leck since the graveyard at St Conal’s closed in 1902. There were no headstones or grave markers in Leck Cemetery to indicate their presence or location and St Conal’s Graveyard Restoration Committee have decided to erect a memorial and information board to mark this burial area.
This memorial service had initially been planned for last December but unfortunately due to serious storm warnings for that day they had to cancel it. The service of remembrance will be held at new Leck cemetery on Sunday, March 8, at 2.30pm to respectfully remember those people who were buried here between 1902-1980.
The St Conal’s Hospital Graveyard Restoration Committee came together in 2016 to restore the old graveyard at the back of St Conal’s Hospital. The Committee is made up of several community groups including Letterkenny Men’s Shed, the Letterkenny Tidy Towns Committee, Letterkenny CDP, TUS, several individuals and supported by the HSE Mental Health Services and HSE Estates Office.

Local historian and former psychiatric nurse Hugh Devlin said that ‘new’ Leck cemetery is more than 120 years old and was initially purchased by the Letterkenny Town Commissioners in 1897 as a non-denominational cemetery.

“That same year the Management Committee of St Conal’s Hospital purchased an adjoining plot of ground for their own future use. It was only after the closure of the graveyard behind St Conal’s Hospital in March, 1902 that the hospital transferred all internments to this plot at Leck. Patients who were buried here would have come from throughout the length and breadth of County Donegal and from all religious backgrounds,” Mr Devlin said.

Chairperson of the committee, Betty Holmes thanked everyone involved in the project for their time, energy, enthusiasm, and commitment, and to the Parish of Conwal and Leck for their assistance.

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When Letterkenny claimed the ultimate title

When Letterkenny claimed the ultimate title of Ireland’s Tidiest Town in 2015 it was an achievement that could never be described as an overnight success. Not something that had come about through the efforts of a hastily convened committee in the months leading up to the adjudication process that year.

No, this was because of the dedication and commitment of a small body of people who, over many years previously, had set about transforming Letterkenny from a town that had all too consistently fallen below the standards set by the National Tidy Towns competition.  There was an all too obvious reason why it had been renamed ‘LITTERKENNY’ as a cursory glance at the main thoroughfares and off streets all too clearly showed.

But that was then.

Under the original guidance of the late Jim McCormick and then onto Anne McGowan who steered the local Tidy Towns Committee into the body it is today, Letterkenny edged away from that easy won reputation of littered streets and general unkempt appearance to the hard won look of the present.

The Tidy Towns initiative is not, of course, one that has sole focus on litter – there are so many other aspects that must be taken into account including the monitoring of amenity and directional signage, enhancement of wildlife habitat and national amenities, the promotion of waste minimisation, and the upkeep of landscaping and streetscaping.. And much more besides.

The annual Cleaner Community Campaign – 2020 represents the 35h year of the initiative – is a hugely important part of the Tidy Towns drive, drawing in the involvement of households and estates, businesses and schools while April is designated National Spring Clean Month to help maintain the crusade to keep Letterkenny and its environs tidy.

Hard work it was, and has been, to bring the town into close proximity of a national award after having been so far removed from such an achievement.

Letterkenny first entered the National Tidy Towns competition in 1986 and after a number of years of knocking on the door, finally began to gain the national recognition that work had earned.

In 2007 it was named as Ireland’s Tidiest Urban Centres – its first major award and one that was to be followed by even greater acknowledgements in subsequent years.

The town gained another major feather in the cap in 2008 when it was chosen to represent Ireland in the international Entente Florale competition – established to recognise municipalities and villages in Europe for excellence in horticultural displays.

In the years after Letterkenny continued to flower until 2015 brought it to the heights only the dedicated few could have foreseen – the Tidiest Town in Ireland.

The Gold Medals have continued in the ensuing years as have the relentless efforts.

Those behind the Tidy Towns Committee say the yearly competition acts as a catalyst for them to improve the sense of community in the town. An attractively presented town improves the quality of life ensuring it has a better chance to thrive – the overall environmental improvements helping to create jobs and stimulate the local economy.

The entire community can play its part in making sure this continues to be so.


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