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Limerick Court Addresses Sectarian Dispute Over Graveyard Inscription |

Limerick Court Addresses Sectarian Dispute Over Graveyard Inscription

In a recent court session held at the Limerick Quarter Sessions, a contentious issue of religious intolerance and bigotry came under scrutiny. The case, brought forward by Miss Mary McNamara of Thomondgate, involved a dispute over burial rights and damages related to a tombstone inscription within the cemetery of St. Munchin, Limerick.

The controversy stemmed from the actions of Canon Robertson, the rector of St. Munchin’s, who, alongside Mr Joseph Stewart, a church warden, ordered the removal of a tombstone bearing the devout invocation, “Sweet Jesus, have mercy on us.” Canon Robertson deemed such a prayer contrary to the doctrine of the Church of Ireland, thereby prompting the removal.

The legal proceedings saw Miss McNamara seeking restitution, asserting her rights to burial and seeking compensation for the obstruction and denial of access to the grave in question. Notably, Captain James O’Grady Delmege, one of the defendants, distanced himself from the actions of Canon Robertson and Mr Stewart during the court proceedings.

Despite Canon Robertson’s absence from the court, Judge Law Smith delivered scathing remarks, expressing his dismay and condemning the actions of the defendants. Judge Smith’s rebuke highlighted the gravity of the situation, labelling it as “one of the most melancholy” cases he had encountered. He denounced the narrow-mindedness and sectarian bigotry displayed by the defendants, emphasizing that such attitudes were not characteristic of Limerick.

The judge’s poignant commentary resonated with many observers, regardless of religious affiliation. His condemnation underscored the universal repudiation of attempts to erase a heartfelt appeal for divine mercy from a Catholic graveside.

The ruling ultimately favoured Miss McNamara, with Judge Smith awarding her the full amounts of her claims. The judgment served as a poignant reminder of the importance of religious tolerance and respect for diverse beliefs, echoing sentiments of inclusivity and compassion.

The proceedings shed light on the enduring challenges of sectarianism and underscored the need for greater understanding and acceptance within communities, particularly in matters as sensitive as burial rights and religious expression.

The Advocate, Melbourne, April 21st 1917

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