La Tourney – Where Life And Death Co-exist

Three Cemeteries With A Fourth Planned, and a Funeral Parlour

By Kingsley Emmanuel

LA Tourney, a small community in Vieux-Fort, has a very unique and striking feature.

It is the only community on the island with three cemeteries and a funeral parlour, and is still attracting more.

The Vieux Fort Public Cemetary
The Vieux Fort Public Cemetary

Romaine Antoine, a resident of the area, aptly described La Tourney as “the land of cemeteries ’.

Peterson Mc Farlane, another resident of the area described it as “a dead zone”.

One side of the community is occupied by the living, the other side is occupied mainly by the dead, where tombs are erected, creating a sight to behold.

The cemeteries, the Vieux Fort Public Cemetery, the Michael O‘Brian Private Cemetery and the Margaret O’ Brian Private Cemetery are all in close proximity to each other. A few metres away isRambally’s Funeral Parlour, which is now in the process of constructing its own cemetery as well.

Most of the residents of La Tourney migrated from Vieux Fort town. Their occupation in the area began in the early 1970’s. Prior to that the area was used as a pasture for cattle. At the moment the majority of the residents are squatters, hoping to purchase the land they occupy soon.

The number of cemeteries in the area has a telling impact on the closely knit community, in both a negative and positive way.

Peterson Mc Farlane, the caretaker of the Vieux Fort Public Cemetery said the community is usually quiet, but when there are funerals it comes to life.

“The shops make money because people buy a lot of drinks…everybody makes a little bread (money)…the funerals put life in the community, “ McFarlane said.

Because of the high level of unemployment in the area, residents of the area most times welcome such activity.

Mc Farlane, however, added that the frequency of funerals which sometimes pose logistical problems for the residents especially with traffic congestion.

He said there are occasions when six funerals are held in the community in a week, and sometimes two a day.

“This causes a lot of problems in the community. People find it very difficult to get into and leave the community,” he lamented.

Mc Farlane said that the situation is compounded by the fact that for a different reason, La Tourney is also a dead end, there is no exit road in the area. “The same road you use to get into the community, you have to use to get out,” he said.

He added that if there is an emergency in the area during a funeral it will surely result in a disaster.

Mc Farlane would like to see something done by the authorities to deal with the problem which, he said, is of grave concern to residents.

Romain Antoine who has been living in the area for the last 38 years said when he migrated to the area it was very quiet and there were only a few houses.

“Things have really changed over the years. I never expected that we would have attracted so many cemeteries in the area…” he said.

In the meantime, the Vieux Fort South Constituency Council is in the process of extending the public cemetery to create more burial space..

Recently, the Mayor of Vieux Fort, Winall Joshua has been complaining that there is a lack of burial space at the cemetery.

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