A FAMILY in the UK have been left "devastated" after the Church of England denied them permission to have an Irish phrase inscribed on their mother’s gravestone.
Margaret Keane, originally from Westmeath, sadly passed away in July 2018.
Her family had hoped they would be allowed to have the Irish words “In ar gcroithe go deo” which translates as “in our hearts forever” engraved on her headstone.
However, a court of the Church of England ruled that, without context, the phrase could be interpreted as a political statement.
The chancellor of the Consistory Court of the Diocese of Coventry ruled that the Gaelic term can only feature on the headstone if it is accompanied with the English translation.
Despite being a member of the Catholic Church, Mrs Keane is buried in her local Church of England graveyard in the suburb of Ash Green in Coventry where she lived for most of her life.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Mrs Keane’s daughter Bernadette, said the family has been left “devastated” by the decision.
“We loved our mum and her death was traumatic and unexpected and we have been through processes running along with fighting for the headstone so we have been in suspended grief,"” she said.
“It was to be a last memorial to a dear and special woman and will also be the headstone of our father when that day comes so not to have that allowed was devastating.”
Mrs Keane’s widower Bernard, originally from Ballyhaunis, was a prominent figure within GAA in Great Britain, serving as president.
His wife, Margaret, had also played an active role in the association and, in 2017, received the GAA president’s medal for her contributions.
I am left open-mouthed at this apparent resurgence of old-fashioned anti-Irish prejudice, not only in a judicial tribunal, but in a judicial tribunal of the church. This is shocking
— Dr Francis Young (@DrFrancisYoung) June 1, 2020
Mrs. Keane’s family has originally requested her headstone feature a Celtic Cross with the emblem of the GAA at its centre alongside with the four-word Irish phrase.
When that request was rejected, they appealed to the church’s Consistory court.
Though they gave approval for the cross and emblem to feature, the court refused to allow the Irish term stand on its own.
The decision has sparked anger online with British historian Francis Young describing the judgment as “shocking”.
He tweeted: “I am left open mouthed at this apparent resurgence of old-fashioned anti-Irish prejudice, not only in a judicial tribunal, but in a judicial tribunal of the church.”