Family wins battle to remember mum with Irish headstone

Family wins battle to remember mum with Irish headstone

A family in Coventry has won an appeal to have their mother’s gravestone marked with an Irish inscription.

The appeal was before the Church of England’s court – the Arches Court of Canterbury – on Wednesday.

It follows a battle of almost three years to have Margaret Keane’s final resting place marked with Irish words.

The Church of England initially rejected her family’s bid to have the message in Irish, insisting on an English translation.

Margaret’s daughter Bernadette Martin said they were “delighted” to win their appeal in London on Wednesday.

“For us as a family we’re just delighted to leave London having got the ruling – we weren’t expecting it,” she told BBC News NI.

“We’re just processing the journey we’ve been on and we are totally delighted.”

Margaret and her husband Bernie Keane, who survives her, were both born in the Republic of Ireland but had moved to the United Kingdom.

She was buried in grounds owned by St Giles’ Church, Exhall, north of Coventry in July 2018.

The inscription for her headstone, which caused the original challenge, was to read: “In ár gcroíthe go deo” (“In our hearts forever”), reflecting her Irish heritage.

It was also to include a Celtic cross and a GAA logo, given her involvement with Gaelic games in Coventry.

A judge of the Ecclesiastical court for the diocese, Stephen Eyre QC, Chancellor of the Diocese of Coventry, had said the inscription could be seen as a political statement.

He had ruled that an English translation of the phrase would have to be included.

The family says they will now start to speak to headstone suppliers as they are free to move forward.

“Mother’s Day and St Patrick’s Day are coming up and it would be lovely if we could do it for one of them,” said Bernadette.

Speaking earlier to RTÉ Drivetime, she said they were ” a little bit shocked still”.

“I think for us, we did this not just for mum, we know that those who follow hopefully won’t have to go through this and that we represented the Irish-ness that mum was so proud of, to the best of our ability,” she said.

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