Cemeteries on Valentine's Day‘We had brilliant times together and we have great memories and you can’t take them away.’

As heard on Today with Sean O'Rourke

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Proving love never dies, graveyards on Valentine’s Day are scattered with red bobbing balloons, roses and cards as families, friends and lovers pay tribute to their loved ones who have passed away.  Paddy O’Gorman paid a visit to Newlands Cross Cemetery to talk to some of the people who were leaving Valentine’s Day gifts on graves.  “It’s an increasing tendency in Irish culture that’s developed in our lifetime to include the dead in the celebrations of the living,” he said, and sure enough he found plenty of people bringing something special for their someone special.

Paddy met Nora who was busy pumping up balloon for her husband who died just over a year ago.

“We had brilliant times together and we have great memories and you can’t take them away.  I loved him, with him since I was 15, miss him terrible.”

Nora is heartbroken to have lost her husband suddenly and at a young age but she stays strong for their three children.  She finds great solace in spending time at the graveside.  She also left a cheeky garter draped over the headstone, proving a sense of humour is never out of place.

“I’m on my own, I have my time with him now and I can talk to him.  I tried to sort things out and tell him what’s happening in life and how we’re coping.”     

Paddy met plenty of widowed people for whom a visit to the graveyard has become an important pilgrimage.  Sandra says of husband Michael O’Leary who died in 2013,

“Every morning when I woke up, I told him that I loved him so now every morning I come here and I tell him that I love him.”

At the cemetery, Paddy discovered a supportive community that found comfort in sharing their experiences with others who understood their feelings.  People gave him flowers and even a piece of birthday cake after a family had gathered to sing happy birthday at the graveside of their son who died aged 23.  All said the act of visiting the grave kept their loved ones alive in their hearts.

Click here to listen to that report in full.

© The Listener 2018

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