Carnage As Blessings Of the Graves Descends Into Drunken Riot
THE Garda special response unit was called to a small village in Carlow last night, after the annual Blessings Of The Graves (BOTG) ceremony descended into a massive brawl amid scenes of public intoxication and anti-social behaviour among the assembled crowd.
The yearly blessing of the cemetery, which adjoins the Gortnalaragh parish church had passed without incident for three years, following the 2012 BOTG which saw 35 parishioners hospitalised and dozens more arrested.
Fears that tensions brewing between rival factions of elderly grave enthusiasts would boil over during yesterday’s ceremony were realised when scuffles began to break out between groups of septuagenarians during the third decade of the rosary.
The men and women, most of whom had been drinking heavily all day, began to throw wreaths, ornaments and handfuls of marble chippings at each other, until local parish priest Fr. Mal McTiernan took matters into his own hands and started laying people out with his holy water dipper.
“The riot squad landed at around 7, and everyone scattered,” said Linda Bellingham, who witnessed the violent scenes from her car as she drove past.
“The whole graveyard was littered with injured people, I saw at least three old grannies with bottle wounds to the head. Something like this was bound to happen, when you get that many people in a graveyard on a hot day. For some of the badly injured, it didn’t seem like it was worth their while going home”.
The carnage witnessed in Gortnalaragh is the third such incident this year, with many people calling for Blessings Of The Graves-style events to be more heavily policed in the future.