Ann Lovett 1968 – January 31 1984
By Donal O'Keeffe
January 31, 2018
34 years ago today, Ann Lovett died after giving birth at a grotto in Granard. Ann’s death changed an Ireland which is still trying to escape the long shadow of the 1980s, writes Donal O’Keeffe.
Granard, Co Longford, is a very picturesque town. It dates back at least to Celtic times and is mentioned in the Táin Bó Cuailgne. Queen Medb and her army stopped in Granard, on their way to take the brown bull of Cooley. So ancient a place is Granard that the original meaning of its name is unclear in Irish. It’s said St Patrick appointed the son of his former master the first bishop of Granard.
Granard is dominated – literally – by the Catholic Church. As you enter from the Edgeworthstown side, you’re immediately aware of the hill looming up on your left, and the grey St Mary’s Church which overlooks the entire main street. At the top of the hill, above the church, is a statue of St Patrick. Below that statue, behind the church, is a Marian shrine. The concreted ground is slick with moss, as a stone Saint Bernadette gazes up with unliving eyes at the statue immortalised by Paula Meehan in her poem ‘The Statue of the Virgin at Granard Speaks‘.