Documentary on One

Letters to Ann

Why did hundreds of Irish women write letters to a county Longford schoolgirl in 1984?

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4.0/5 (140 ratings)

Documentary maker: Lorelei Harris

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Letters to Ann

The story barely made the front of one paper in January 1984 but it might have had the biggest headline for the impact it had on the Ireland.

It appeared tucked into the top left hand corner of The Sunday Tribune front page. A single column story about a schoolgirl in Granard, Co. Longford.

She had given birth to a baby boy in a field, beside a grotto. Both she and her son had died. The schoolgirl's name was Ann Lovett and she was 15.

The story shocked the country and brought shame on Granard. The people of Granard went on the defensive as if theirs wasn't the only town with unwanted teenage pregnancies. As if they weren't the first.

And they were right.

The Gay Byrne Show started to receive so many letters from women about such pregnancies that one programme was devoted to reading them out.

Twelve years after Ann's death, Lorelei Harris, a producer on the Gay Byrne programme, decided to make a radio documentary on the letters to Ann.

She sought the opinions of local people on the pregnancy and death of Ann Lovett. Journalists and broadcasters also talked about their experiences at the time.

Contributors to this documentary include Emily O'Reilly, Kevin O'Connor and people from Grandard. The 'Letters to Ann' were read by Aidan Matthews and John MacKenna, with Ann-Marie Horan reading from the original Gay Byrne show letters.

Produced by Lorelei Harris

Sound Supervision by Anton Timoney

Broadcast 1996

An Irish radio documentary from RTÉ Radio 1, Ireland - Documentary on One - the home of Irish radio documentaries

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