Family wins financial support from Church of England to pursue Gaelic gravestone appeal
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Family wins financial support from Church of England to pursue Gaelic gravestone appeal

A FAMILY battling to have a Gaelic inscription on their mother’s gravestone will have their court costs paid for by the Church of England it has been confirmed today.

The news comes after the family of Margaret Keane - a Coventry-based Irishwoman who passed away in 2018 - were forced to launch a Go Fund Me page to help pay substantial legal costs they faced as they appealed a court decision refusing their intended inscription for their mother’s headstone.

In May, the Chancellor of the Diocese of Coventry, Stephen Eyre QC, refused to allow Margaret’s headstone to be inscribed with the Gaelic phrase In ár gcroíthe go deo, which means ‘In our hearts forever’.

Last month The Irish Post exclusively revealed that to pursue this review of their case, the family could be forced to pay all of the court’s costs, whatever the outcome.

The Keanes subsequently set up a Go Fund Me page, to help with the financial costs.

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But today the family revealed that they have received confirmation from the Church of England that their costs will be paid for by “sources within the Church”.

Margaret Keane's grave at St Giles Church in Coventry

In a statement made this evening, the family’s legal team explained: "After enduring the agonising burden of facing substantial court costs, the family of Margaret Keane was very relieved to receive confirmation last week from the Church of England that sources within the Church will pay for the family’s court costs in respect of their ongoing appeal to overturn the decision made by the Chancellor of the Diocese of Coventry, HHJ Stephen Eyre QC, to refuse an Irish only inscription on their mother’s gravestone.”

The Church has also made refunds to the family of some of the court costs they have paid to date.

“Although the family’s legal team are acting on a free of charge basis, the ecclesiastical court (which is separate to the Church of England) is entitled to charge costs," they explain.

“This has been an immense burden to bear, for a long period of time. To date, the family have paid a total of £2,085.60 in court costs - with £42 and £129 subsequently being refunded to date.”

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They added: “The family’s initial request to the Arches Court of Canterbury - where the appeal is to be heard - for costs to be waived was initially denied.

“The family renewed that request in August 2020, on receiving a further bill of £1,054.80 from the Court.

“It has now been confirmed that the family will be reimbursed the remaining £1,914.60 they have paid to the Court to date.

“It has also been confirmed that the family will be given assistance from sources within the Church to cover their future Court costs.”

Westmeath native Margaret Keane died in 2018 (Pic: Chris Egan)

The Keane family has been supported by Conradh na Gaeilge - Londain , who are acting as a third party intervener in their appeal.

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But it has also been revealed today that the Irish language organisation will now face some of the court costs themselves.

As a result, funds raised through the family’s recently launched Go Fund Me page, will now be used to cover the court costs of Conradh na Gaeilge in pursuing their appeal, as well as supporting the Margaret Keane Memorial Fund.

“Despite being a small community organisation with limited funds, Conradh na Gaeilge will also have to pay some of the court’s costs,” the family’s statement explains.

“A crowd fund was launched very recently to seek donations to alleviate the financial burden regarding court costs.

“As stated within the fund’s terms, any surplus funds raised will go towards the court costs payable by Conradh na Gaeilge - Londain, and The Margaret Keane Memorial Fund.”

The family also took the opportunity to thank everyone who has supported them in their ongoing battle to have their intended Gaelic inscription on their mother’s grave.

“The family are profoundly grateful and moved by the overwhelming support that they have received from the public; from all those who have sent messages of support from around the world, to donations to the crowd fund,” they said.

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“The battle to achieve parity of esteem with the other parishioners and to have an Irish only inscription on the gravestone is ongoing, but the intervention by the Church regarding costs is a very welcome development.”