Grave stones are away with the birds


The ‘caws’ of the mysterious disappearance of ornamental stones from graves in a Co Derry cemetery has finally been solved - they’re away with the birds!

Claudy parishioners were in a flap when they found the tops of their loved ones’ graves were bare. They were initially up in the air as to who could be behind such a fiendish crime.

More than a few feathers were ruffled when it turned out that the thieves were the winged variety.

Caretaker Kevin O’Kane told the ‘Journal’ he couldn’t believe that the ornamental stones from five graves in had been flown out of the cemetery by crows.

“It’s unbelievable. I had noticed that some stones had been removed but thought people had taken them home to be washed. Then a women came to me and told me that the stones from her daughter’s grave were being taken. Another man then came to me and said stones had been taken from his mother-in-law’s grave. He said he knew who the thieves were - I could hardly believe it when he said the crows were taking them. I laughed at him at first,” he added.

However, after something of a stakeout in the cemetery accompanied by a colleague, Kevin enjoyed a bird’s eye view of the culprits at work.

“I came back the next day with a man who works with me and we hid behind some bushes. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing. The birds descended on one of the graves and they were cleaning it of stones. They stripped the grave bare, it was unbelievable. Some crows stood on the headstone looking around while the rest were picking the stones off the grave. When they were finished picking, they moved on and the crows that were on top of the headstone then started picking at the stones.”

Pauline Farren said she was distraught to discover that stones had been taken from the grave of her mother, Kathleen Carlin, who died three years ago. After initially fearing that vandals were to blame, she later witnessed the truth for herself.

“It was definitely the crows, I went down to mammy’s grave and there were about dozen on it. They then moved onto another grave and they were flat out lifting stones from it.

“My brother then got a white plastic sheet and covered the grave to keep them out, but they managed to get in and continue to remove the stones.” The actions of the birds has been costly for those affected. “The small bags of stones cost about £70 each. Just today I was quoted £750 to have the grave covered with granite so we don’t have any more problems with the birds,” Ms Farren added.

Five graves, four with black stones and one with sky blue stones, were targeted by the crafty birds between August and November.

However, mystery continues to surround the missing stones as no- one knows where they are. Perhaps it will give wings to a whole new wave of birdwatching in the Claudy area!