As we congregated at the grave side of Baby Ryan, it was very peaceful and tranquil afternoon with beams of sunlight shining through the trees. Just as Father McGinley started his service, a sound took out attention to look to our left side we all looked over and saw a pair of white horses pulling a white carriage slowly moving along the drive carrying a small white bay coffin, and just carried on passed.
A calm but eerie feeling came over us all, and during the service a gentle breeze like autumn snow of leaves announced their passing by dancing around.
Peace at last for couple
Whilst we started to arrive at the graveside, a elderly couple stood in the distance, on looking over l could see that the lady was very distressed and upset whilst her husband was trying to calm her down, my first thoughts was that perhaps there was a connection with Baby Ryan so l thought best to make myself known and see if l could help in anyway.
The lady was having much difficulty in trying to speak and by this time her husband was also becoming upset, l tried to comfort both whilst trying to deal with the situation without others who had attended for Baby Ryan becoming aware of the distressed couple. What l could make out was that the couple had a baby out of wedlock, the baby died a few days later which Nuns had taken the baby and arranged the burial without any involvement of the place of rest to the mother or father. Since time was now moving towards the Service start, I asked the lady to write to me with the details and l would see if there was anything l could do to help the couple find some kind of closure.
A few days later, the letter arrived which clearly showed that this couple had been grieving the loss of the Baby Boy for over 40 years, it seems the couple drifted apart and married having their own families but some years later they got back together and finally married. neither of their families knew about the baby or the early history of the couple.
What the couple needed was to know the location of the resting place that the Nun's had buried their baby boy in, so much suffering, they had attempted to find the resting place themselves but had no idea whether the burial took place in Astwood or elsewhere, they felt that they had no support from various parties they had tried over the years.
Firstly, l searched for the burial at the dates given me which l found the location, having contacted the couple we met at the Cemetery in the area they so much wanted to be ale to be able to attend the grave on a regular basis and lay flowers.
A couple of days later l arranged to see Mr Mike Hacklett who was in charge of the Cemetery at that time, we visited the grave area together and it was agreed to allow the couple to place a headstone down for their baby, l can't put into words just how overjoyed the couple had taken the news..
Arrangements were made for a headstone to be laid which took about six weeks, at this time none of the other family knew of the baby or the heartbreaking story that hopefully the results brought now would bring closure to much suffering for the couple.
Following the placing of the headstone, l was invited to attend the graveside service which was conducted by Father McGinley and met the children of both families who had been told only a couple of days beforehand.
The couple were extremely grateful, and kept intouch, I visit Astwood on a regular basis and look over and see fresh flowers on the baby grave, and pray that they continue to have the peace in place of years of grieving ...
A lesson should be learnt by some authorities of what becomes more morally and understanding in such cases, thankfully Mr Hacklett was extremely sympathetic to the cause and helped in a very difficult situation.