Family fighting for Irish grave inscription 'standing up for what mum wanted'

A family is heading to court in an effort to secure a standalone Irish-language inscription on a gravestone to a community figure.

A judge had ruled that the loving phrase could not be included on the memorial to Margaret Keane without an accompanying English translation.

The Chancellor of the Diocese of Coventry decreed that the words ‘in ár gcroíthe go deo’, which translates as ‘in our hearts forever’, would not be understandable to many and could be misinterpreted as a political slogan.

Mrs Keane’s family appealed against the church court decision and has led a high-profile campaign to remember the ‘best of Irish’ community stalwart according to her beliefs at St Giles Church Exhall in Ash Green.

Untranslated inscriptions in languages including Hebrew, Latin and Welsh feature on other gravestones in the churchyard.

The family’s ‘Message to Margaret’ campaign is due to reach its conclusion at the Arches Court of Canterbury tomorrow, 18 months after her daughters submitted the headstone design.

Bez Martin, one of Mrs Keane’s six children, told as she made her way to London today that the family’s fight is what their mother would have wanted.

She said: ‘It’s been an exhausting, complicated journey to get to this point.

‘We’ve had to learn all sorts of systems and almost learn a new language with the legal process.

‘It’s been emotional and challenging at times, when we’ve asked ourselves if we were doing the right thing investing in this, but It’s been uplifting having the support we’ve had, we’ve never been lonely.

‘For myself and my sister, who are leading the challenge on behalf of the family, it’s an honour to stand up for what my mother believed in.

‘We are representing her.’

Born in Ireland, Mrs Keane settled in Coventry with husband Bernie and became known for her work with the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA).

In 2018, she received the GAA’s International Award, which said she had given ‘a lifetime of unselfish service and dedication’ to the association.

The community champion, who also leaves behind 14 grandchildren and one great-grandchild, also served as dinner lady in Bedworth for 26 years.

She died suddenly in hospital on July 29, 2018, aged 73.

Her family, who have attracted overwhelming support from the Irish community, have a wider aim of making it easier for other families to remember loved ones according to their languages and beliefs.

Their legal challenge is backed by a fundraising appeal, the Margaret Keane Memorial Fund, which is raising money for a children’s Irish exchange project, an independent study into the impact of public decisions on Black and Minority Ethnic Groups and future challenges to ‘discriminatory’ Diocesan rules or practices.

Mrs Martin, 43, from Leicestershire, said: ‘My mum was the best of Irish mothers and she was proud to be part of the diaspora.

‘She was our best friend and there wasn’t a thing she wouldn’t do for friend, foe or family. She was humble but giving of all of her time.

‘She was never the centre of attention so there’s a contradiction to her name being so public now because when she was alive she was always in the background, making things happen quietly. She just immersed her life in Irish culture in Coventry and Birmingham with the Gaelic football and volunteered her whole life making football matches happen over here.

‘We feel very blessed she was our mum.’

The original ruling was made by Judge Stephen Eyre QC, who considered the Coventry Churchyard Regulations which say that messages on graves will be read by many people who did not know the deceased.

Judge Eyre ruled: ‘Not only would the message of the inscription not be understood but there is a risk of it being misunderstood.

‘Given the passions and feelings connected with the use of Irish Gaelic there is a sad risk that the phrase would be regarded as some form of slogan or that its inclusion without translation would of itself be seen as a political statement.

‘That is not appropriate and it follows that the phrase “In ár gcroíthe go deo” must be accompanied by a translation which can be in a smaller font size.’

The judge added: ‘It is clearly right that the memorial to Mrs. Keane should record and celebrate her Irish heritage and her dedicated community service through the GAA.’

However, Mrs Keane’s family believe an English translation would clutter and overcomplicate the design and would not be in parity with gravestones in other languages.

The family’s appeal is due to reach its conclusion tomorrow when the ecclesiastical court sits at St Mary-Le-Bow Church in London.

Mrs Martin and sister Caroline Newey, in whose name the appeal is being brought, are due to attend the hearing, set to last at least a day.

Irish Language rights group Conradh na Gaeilge i Londain is due to make a representation in support of the family.

Do you have a story you would like to share? Contact [email protected]

For more stories like this, check our news page.

Source: Read Full Article