Belfast Telegraph

Daughter’s headstone will stay, vows defiant Belfast mother

The family has asked people to join them at the cemetery on Sunday for a gathering to mark the 28th day of notice to remove the headstone (stock photo)
The family has asked people to join them at the cemetery on Sunday for a gathering to mark the 28th day of notice to remove the headstone (stock photo)
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

A mother from west Belfast who was ordered to remove the headstone from her daughter's grave has said the support her family has received from around the world has strengthened their resolve to keep the memorial in place.

Loretta Nolan, mother of Emma Nolan, who passed away aged 23 last year following a battle with alcoholism, said she has been overwhelmed after 3,500 people joined the Facebook group Let Emma Nolan Rest in Peace.

Mrs Nolan received a solicitor's letter last month telling her the butterfly-shaped headstone she selected for her daughter's grave in Hannahstown did not comply with the rules of the parish cemetery.

The pink headstone was erected in April, but despite being a similar size and shape to regular headstones, the family was given 28 days' notice to remove it.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mrs Nolan said the family is determined the headstone will remain in place.

"The amount of support we have had has been incredible and has overwhelmed us completely," she said.

"We have had messages from people from across the world, from America, Australia and every part of Ireland.

"People cannot understand why we are being asked to take down the headstone on Emma's grave, and to be honest we cannot understand why either.

"The butterfly headstone was picked by Emma's son who is only six, and it has great significance for us because it was the symbol of the treatment for alcoholism Emma went through before she died.

"Emma's headstone is the size of any other headstone so we cannot see why we are being asked to remove it, but the committee of Hannahstown Cemetery need to realise we will not take it down."

The family has asked people to join them at the cemetery on Sunday for a gathering to mark the 28th day of notice to remove the headstone.

The committee has expressed its regret at the distress caused to a number of families who received similar notices.

But it insisted the regulations were in place to ensure memorials are "suitable for the setting and that the dignity of the cemetery is maintained".

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