Solemn burial for 79 skeletons dug up at old hospital
Seventy-nine skeletons have been reburied after they were discovered at the site of a former hospital in Tyrone.
The remains were found during work on the site of the former Omagh General Hospital and are thought to be around 160 years old.
The finds were made during an excavation in what used to be the hospital's car park area ahead of building work on a new children's respite centre, which is near completion.
The remains were reburied yesterday afternoon at Omagh Cemetery. It is believed the bones date back to the mid-19th century when a workhouse stood on the site.
No records exist in relation to the identity of the bones unearthed and the burial plots were not marked.
According to the Western Trust, which is responsible for the ground, the excavation “didn’t impinge on the two identified cemetery areas on the former hospital site”.
Kieran Downey from the trust was among representatives who attended the service of re-interment yesterday.
“The trust was very mindful of the need to treat these human remains respectfully and to find an appropriate resting place for them since they were unearthed during works in an area where no burials had been anticipated.
“This is why it was fitting for the trust to engage with Omagh Churches Forum and we are grateful for the co-operation of the clergy who conducted the service in a most dignified manner.”
Mr Downey added that the trust is “planning for an appropriate memorial stone”.
However local councillor Patrick McGowan said he had objected to the digging when the first body was discovered around two years ago.
“When it was first mentioned to the council at the time, I thought there was only one or two, and I didn't realise it was going to be as many as 79,” he said.
“In my opinion it was disrespectful. It must mean a car park is more important than the graves.”
The trust has said an on-site survey was carried out before digging began which revealed no areas of concern.