Yesterday, on the 9th anniversary of my father’s passing – my mother and I placed a wreath on his grave in St. Mary’s Church of Ireland Cemetery in Clonsilla. We then travelled to Glasnevin Cemetery and did the same on the grave of my paternal grandparents Brigid and John.
Finally, we crossed the road to the Holy Angels plot where my twin sister and brother – Carol Anne Penrose (10 days old – 15th May 1969) & Alan Raymond Penrose (1 day old – 5th May 1969) are laid to rest.
My mother lost her babies after a full term pregnancy. The good people of the Catholic Church took them, baptised them without her at Westland Row and buried them anonymously in mass graves along with 50000 other babies whose mothers never got to hold them or grieve for them at a place where they knew they rested.
In 2005 this was at last partly corrected. The previously sunken and unkempt plot was replaced with communal headstones, gardens and seating areas on the perimeters of a small area of unmarked graves.
In her address at the dedication of the restored plot to the hundreds of people in attendance, then President of Ireland Mary McAleese recognised that in the past many children had been “buried in oppressed silence between dusk and dawn”. She said that too often the loss experienced by parents was not acknowledged and that “clinical insensitivity accompanied the eerie silence”.
The President referred to her own grandmother who lost a daughter shortly after birth but continued to speak of her 50 years later. Mrs. McAleese added that the newly restored plot was a deserving resting place for the 50,000 children.
Yesterday we corrected my mothers children’s entries in the birth records database at the genealogy office, located the exact spot where they are (only possible recently after the Catholic Church released the records) and made arrangements to replace their anonymous location with single identifiable locations for both Carol and Alan. My mother is the strongest person I know.
On the Holy Angels Plot, Christy Kenneally read one of his poems, which has been inscribed there on a stone monolith – it is beautiful and heart breaking and a fitting tribute to all the children who rest there.
I did not die young
I lived my span of life
Within your body
And within your love
There are many
Who have lived long lives
And have not been as loved as me
If you would honour me
Then speak my name
And number me among your family
If you would honour me
Then strive to live in love
For in that love I live
Never ever doubt
That we will meet again
Until that happy day
I will grow with God
And wait for you.