Proposed Angels Remembrance Garden Glasnevin

Hi everyone,

On the 26th June we posted an announcement from the Management of Glasnevin Cemetery; you can read it under the General post on the forum or on our main website home page.
In response to several new posts from distressed parents in the last few days I will try to explain the current situation as best I can.

I can understand perfectly the hurt and pain for any parent at having to remove their personal memoriams from the grave where their baby is buried. It is heartbreaking and nothing that I can say here will take away any of the distress that parents feel right now.

Could I just try to explain why this is happening and maybe it will help in some small way. Most of you reading this will be aware that ISANDS were involved in the restoration and rededication of the Old Angles Plot now known as the Old Angels Memory Garden (to the left of the main entrance). That restoration was necessary on two levels, firstly because the shared burial area was in a desolate state and causing great upset to older parents who were visiting their baby's grave for the first time or on a regular basis. The shared burial ground is the resting place of over 50, 000 babies; each grave has up to 70 babies buried in it.

What happened over the years was that more and more parents and families were placing individual markings on the place where their baby was buried. In time this became a really difficult situation as other parents wanted to mark the same place, as their baby was buried in the same grave. Understandably there was upset on both sides. Parents had waited a long time to find and acknowledge their baby and then it was not possible to do so in relation to memorialising the same shared grave. Many parents and families approached ISANDS and asked if we could help in any way. It was a fragile time and some parents who had placed memoriams on the shared burial area were obviously upset but most wanted something done to make the whole burial area look better. ISANDS opened communication with the Management of Glasnevin and after consultation with the parents and the public, a plan to establish a Garden was agreed. ISANDS view was always that if a Garden of Remembrance was established it would protect the burial area for the future - long beyond our lifetimes. We were always worried that if something was not done that new burials could happen again in the Angels plots.

The Garden was completed and officially blessed and inaugurated in 2005. It is of simple design and hopefully in the future we can work with Glasnevin Management to add some more detail to it.

The last burial in the Old Angels Memory Garden took lace in the 70's and a new shared area of burial for babies began up at the current Angels plot beyond the new rows of communal headstones and graves.

There are thousands of babies buried in shared graves and like the Old Angels Garden, up to 70 babies are buried in each grave. Over the years many parents and families have placed small memoriams and surrounds on the area where their baby is buried but similar to the Old Angels Memory Graves this has caused distress to other parents as they can not mark the same place. Many of the older parents also worry about the fact that they are getting older themselves and wonder who will look after the place where their baby is buried after they have gone.
Another concern of ours is yet again the question of the burial area being used again in the future if not protected.

The newer part of this shared burial area is where the most recent burials take place. Each time I visit the cemetery it is heartbreaking to see how many new families are coping with this tragic loss. Understandably parents want to remember their son or daughter by memorialising the place their baby is buried. Each grave holds the remains of up to 30 infants. If you are standing facing each headstone you will see the babies names to the left and right of the headstone. There are 15 babies buried to the right and 15 babies to the left of each headstone. In each grave of 15 burials, there are five infants placed one after the other to make up three rows. Hope this make sense; I do not mean to be insensitive but trying to explain how it is and how difficult it is for everyone to have a place to mark the area where their baby is buried. If one parent marks out a grave it is the same resting place of four other babies. This has in recent years caused huge distress to other parents and many will not visit their babies grave because of it. It is a really difficult situation to address and a fragile time for families affected by both situations.

We were hoping by establishing a Garden that it will give everyone an opportunity to remember their baby in the same way and that this area will be protected long after we are all gone. I hope this all makes sense but if I have confused anyone or clarification is needed on any thing that I have raised please let me know, you can post it on our forum or email me at info@isands, by telephone 01 8726996 or you can send me a private message on the forum.

The Management of Glasnevin placed a public notice in the newspaperson Saturday 26th September. You can view the plan on our main website if you wish to see it.  The proposed date to commence the work is the 12th Oct. The Management has stated that if parents and families are unable to remove personal memoriams that the cemetery staff will put them in safe keeping and families will be able to collect their mementoes prior to the end of December 2009.

We fully support the plans to establish an Angels Garden but understand the absolute upset that parents feel right now and will when the work begins but I really do hope that it will be worth it when the Garden is complete. Incase parents are worried that their baby's grave will be disturbed or that a bulldozer will go in and level off the subsided graves, this will not happen. Top soil will be placed in areas where graves have subsided.  The communal headstones will not be removed.

On a final note, we will do what we can to represent your needs to the Management of Glasnevin. The only way forward in these situations is to keep communication open and honest. If you have any comments to make in relation to the current situation please get in touch with me.

Please use the ISANDS dsucssion forum for on- going support as well.

Ron Smith Murphy
National Chairperson, ISANDS

Angels Garden (PDF)