Their bones are singing.
They say that She would never be forgotten, that young fifteen year old
girl who died at the foot of a Marian Grotto in Granard, twenty six years
ago. Ann Lovett was found dead beside the body of her new-born child
twenty six years ago. She was fifteen.
I keep thinking that if the Statue she had chosen to meet her death beside
had been painted, or friendly, or had a rounded stomach, a vestige of humanity
then maybe that little girl would not have died. She went to the lonliest place
she could find, not for aid, but because she knew that no-one went there and
she knew she would be safe from prying eyes and intrusion.
The case haunted me at the time because we were of an age.
I always wondered if she saw her baby's face before they died.
The name I chose to write with is of a fourteen year old girl
who started a tourist industry in Lourdes and the cult of
Mariology which has deprived woman of her uniqueness
and colour and put before her a ghastly white, drained of blood
shell which we call Mary. The year the Marian iconography
became endemic in Ireland was 1954. Statues of ghostly
virgin females dotted the roadsides, the schoolyards
a cult of woman drained of her essence and humanity.
They sometimes bled, or moved and people got on their knees.
If we painted them as they do in Spain and Mexico, where ritual
is allied to life and death, they would be carnival grotesques.
We would be painting garish colours onto a shell, emptied
as I repeat of its essence.
The "what ifs?' jump off the page. A young girl dies in a sacred
grotto, the women of blood gather her up and carry her through
the streets. Her baby cleaned and dressed in flowers and silk.
A testimony to sorrow, to youthful love, or a silent protest
against rape, incest, the man who ran?
The reality would be that it does not matter to us how she
died, but that her reality and the reality of her child are owned,
known and recognised by the community that surrounded them.
The Community was silent. The community turned away.
They turned to the statue which provides them with no answers,
The same blank face that Ann Lovett saw as she lay bleeding and alone.
Thirty Years after the country of Ireland was littered with these
bloodless icons, a girl of fifteen died beneath one of them.
The community did not envelop her in their care and her bones
are singing as we enter again a newer phase of laws that
create the conditions for more of this , these appalling vistas
wherein the death of two children in a lonely place counts for nothing.
You can't blame a statue or the iconography that a people choose
to express their fervour. The statue after all was probably funded by the parish
council and put there with love. No-one went there.
A fitting image to place in the place where Ann died would be
a woman and child.
Dedicated: To the memory Of Sinead and her baby ( RIP )