Red faced bosses at Emerald Park, Ireland’s leading theme park, have admitted to a ‘grave’ error after dozens of locals wer unable to gain access to the plots of loved ones buried in a cemetery in the parks grounds, over the Christmas period.

Parishioners in Curraha,where the park is located, had no warning of the situation until a sign went up at the entrance to the cemetery some weeks ago requesting those who wish to gain admittance to call a mobile number to allow them to do so.

A second sign warned them not to climb over the locked gates.

A major issue arose on St Stephen’s day when a number of people have told how they rang the number but nobody answered, it is understood there was no staff on duty that day.

One claimed, ‘ The graveyard is situated within Emerald Park but there is a separate access located directly across from the Tayto crisp factory,owned by the same people, visitors were shocked when they first saw the sign as when the late Ray Coyle was running the business there was never any issue over people going in to visit the graves of loved ones, he even contributed to the upkeep of the cemetery.

Sign on the graveyard gate

Traditionally around Christmas families, some of whom travel quite a distance come to lay wreaths on graves and this year many found themselves locked out because the phone number was ringing out.

The other problem is that not everyone has a mobile phone, especially the elderly of society, and even those that have will tell you the coverage is awful in that area.’

Now the parks general manager, Ray Coyles son Charles, has apologised for the fiasco and blamed technical difficulties.

In a statement he said, ‘The restriction on access into Emerald Park was a short term measure only in place over the Christmas period as a security precaution.

‘The hope was that when anyone who wished to access the graveyard, could contact the number and the staff members who were on site, would immediately be able to provide those people access.

‘This tended to work for almost all cases over the Christmas period.

‘Unfortunately, we had some technical difficulties on St. Stephens Day with this system.

‘However, once we were notified of this issue, we rectified it and were able to allow people access to the graveyard by the afternoon.

‘Emerald Park, has and will always, provide access to The Kilbrew Graveyard for anyone who wishes to access it. We regret that this issue occurred and do apologise to all who were affected by it. At all other times during the year, our gate is open from 07:30 until 18:00 in the winter and approx. 21:00 during the Summer.

‘We will do our utmost to resolve this going forward and we appreciate and respect the strong relationship we have built with the local community over the years and hope to continue as we transition to Emerald Park this year.’