31st January 1984. Ann Lovett, a pregnant 15 year old girl from Granard, Co. Longford, died shortly after giving birth to a child, alone in a grotto to the Virgin Mary, that died soon after birth.
The sale of contraceptives was illegal in Ireland at the time except to married couples for 'bona fide' family planning purposes.
The previous year, 1983, saw the introduction of the 'pro-life' amendment to the constitution which sought to outlaw abortion in all circumstances.
At the time of Ann Lovett's death, hundreds of women wrote to the Gay Byrne Show (Byrne's radio show was then the most listened to radio programme in Ireland, especially by women) to share their experiences of having children out of marriage.
So many letters were sent to Gay Byrne that he felt compelled to read some of them on air on February 23rd, 1984.
Letters to Ann will be rebroadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 tomorrow, Saturday, 1st February at 6pm.
Extracts from some of the letters are published in today's Irish Times.
The Ann Lovett letters: sorrow, shame, anger and indignation - People | Popular Stories, Obituaries & More | The Irish Times - Fri, Jan 31, 2014CARLOW
‘My mother never went outside the door after news of my downfall became public’
In 1972 I found myself expecting. I was 16. I was expelled and disgraced from the Mercy Convent in Carlow town. A priest who visited me told me I would pay for my great sin for the rest of my life. My baby, a boy, was taken from me. I am not allowed to trace him. My own mother died before the child was born. She never went outside the door after news of my downfall became public.
I accepted all this as part of my punishment. But I am still paying. I cannot relate all the things that happened in my life without breaking down. My point is that I lived after my sin and I’ve been treated as an outcast ever since. All this sorrow would be turned to gossip had Ann lived. Why was there this fear in 1984, [meaning] that Ann could tell no one? When the people of Granard pray before their grotto, pray for us who lived to pay.
This video is from a short film made to the memory of Ann Lovett, 1968 - 1984.