RTÉ One, Thursday, 7.00pm

Ann Lovett: The story that wouldn't remain local

Programme One looks back at the Ann Lovett story. On the afternoon of 31st January 1984,15 year-old Ann Lovett was discovered in a grotto just outside the town of Granard by passers-by. She had just given birth to a baby boy. By the time she was discovered, the child had died and Ann was suffering from shock. She died later that day in hospital. Her death went unnoticed by the media until a local man, realising the implications of the tragedy, rang the Sunday Tribune to tell them what had happened. The story of Ann Lovett's tragic death was made known to the nation 5 days after her funeral and that of her baby son.

The programme explores how the tragedy prompted a sea-change in Irish attitudes. We look at the story as it unfolded at the time, through newspapers, radio and television coverage. We speak to those directly involved in bringing the story to the nation at the time about the bitter stand-off between the people of Granard and the media.

Gay Byrne looks back at the famous 'Ann Lovett letters programme' that became an outlet for women all over the country to tell their own moving and often tragic stories for the first time. Eugene McGee tells the locals' story and, for the first time in 20 years, a resident of Granard speaks out about the effect the tragedy has had on the town.

Above all, however, the programme paints a picture of a very different Ireland. "Looking back at those letters now, it seems to me that not only are we living in a different country, not only are we living in a different era, it seems to me like we are living on a different planet." (Gay Byrne)

Reporter: Garry Mac Donnchadha
Producer/Director: Sarah Ryder

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