A meeting of Kerry County Council heard undertakers are storing the ashes in urns on their premises because there is nowhere else for them to be placed.
It was told that since 2017 undertakers in the county have reported a growing demand for cremation and there is now an “urgent need” for facilities to store ashes.
Councillors heard that none of the county’s 154 public cemeteries has columbarium walls which are designed to store urns.
The county’s newest graveyard, the multi-faith and non-denominational Killarney Cemetery, which opened in 2018, still has no columbarium wall – despite this being “a key element” of the original plans, the meeting heard.
Independent Councillor Brendan Cronin said: “The ashes of deceased relatives are in presses and cupboards because there is nowhere to put them.”
He said a columbarium wall was meant to be included in Killarney Cemetery.
“What in the name of God is taking so long?” Mr Cronin asked council management.
He said there is an “urgent need” for such a wall but the council had failed to recognise this.
Labour Councillor Marie Moloney told of a recent burglary in Dublin where the house was ransacked and the owners returned to find the ashes of a loved-one “spread all over the place”.
“A lot of people are happy to keep the ashes in their homes, but others are not. What is the delay with Killarney?” she said.
Director of services John Breen said funding for the development of columbarium walls in both Tralee and Killarney had been approved. The tender for Killarney will be advertised by the end of January, he said.
“As this is the first development of its kind in the county, appropriate consideration had to be given to its design, layout and setting,” he added.
Meanwhile, Galway County Council is piloting an urn tower memorial vault at the graveyard at Renville, Oranmore.
The vault allows for the ashes of the deceased to be placed inside a labelled vertical vault which can be extended to hold the urns of more family members.
As in other counties, most graveyards in Co Galway do not facilitate ash-only interments.
But if the pilot is successful it may be extended to other cemeteries.
While some faiths do not allow cremation, all Christian denominations do.
Recognising the growing demand for cremation in 2016, Pope Francis approved a directive that the ashes of baptised Catholics should be placed in consecrated cemeteries rather than scattered or kept at home.