21 years on, Granard baby echoes tragic Ann Lovett

THE discovery of the body of a newborn baby will have sent shivers down the spine of any resident of Granard, Co Longford, old enough to remember the lonely deaths of 15-year-old Ann Lovett and her secret child 21 years ago.

On January 31, 1984, when morning classes ended, Ann, a fifth-year student at the Mercy Order secondary school, left school as usual but didn’t go home.

After calling briefly to a friend’s house, she slipped back through the small streets and disappeared into the grotto by the graveyard on the hill at the top of the town.

It was cold and prematurely dark under the weak wintry sun and the only sounds she heard for the few hours she lay there were the rain falling on the dead leaves and her own stifled cries of pain.

Young Jimmy Brady found her there at four in the afternoon on his way home from school after his eye was drawn to her schoolbag lying on the ground.

She was found in a grotto dedicated to Our Lady, with a statue of the Blessed Mother looking down on her suffering.

She was semi-conscious and fatally weak from exposure and bleeding. The lifeless body of her six-and-a-half pound newborn baby boy lay nearby.

The manner of her death shocked the country and started a national debate on the psychological pressures on young mothers.

Christy Moore wrote a famous ballad, The Middle of the Island, in the wake of Ann Lovett’s death.

“It was a sad, slow, stupid death for them both, Everybody knew - nobody said,” he sang.

Many locals in Granard resented the media portrayal of the town as cold and uncaring and to this day, the Ann Lovett case arouses controversy there.

Three months after Ann died, a fortnight after what would have been her 16th birthday, her 14-year-old sister, Patricia, died from an overdose of a drug prescribed primarily for anxiety and blood pressure.

Three years later, their father, Diarmuid, who had suffered with high blood pressure, took a stroke and died at the age of just 54.

Five years ago the town hit the headlines again when John Carthy, a young man suffering from manic depression, was shot dead by gardaí after a siege at his home two miles down the road in Abbeylara.

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