Ireland – ‘I was Ann Lovett’s boyfriend

I was Ann Lovett’s boyfriend
Ann Lovett died aged 15 in 1984 after giving birth at a grotto in Granard, Co Longford – a tragedy that continues to resonate. Today, Ann’s former boyfriend Ricky McDonnell speaks publicly for the first time

May 4, 2018
Rosita Boland

Richard “Ricky” McDonnell is standing at the gate, staring at a house on Colmcille Terrace, Granard, Co Longford. There was a time, 34 years ago, when he knew this house inside out. It was here he had lived from the age of six to 17 – including several years on his own – until he had to leave. It was here he had spent many hours with his former girlfriend Ann Lovett, who died aged 15 after giving birth at the grotto in the town on January 31st, 1984. It was here, on that January day, Ricky McDonnell’s life changed utterly.

Ann Lovett’s death became one of the most soul-searching events of 1980s Ireland. It continues to resonate in the national psyche more than three decades later, in part because so many questions were left unanswered.