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Permanent memorial unveiled at City Cemetery ‘Baby Haven’

12 Sep 2019
A permanent memorial to mark the resting place of 7,160 babies was officially unveiled at City Cemetery today by the Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor John Finucane.

It follows a consultation process with families who helped to shape the design of the memorial that is now in place at Plot Z1, also known as the ‘Baby Haven’.

Representatives of the families attended the unveiling and dedication service today, alongside the memorial’s sculptor Charlotte Howarth.

“Today marks an important and poignant milestone for the families who have been directly involved in this project,” said Councillor Finucane.

“I trust that the families will consider this a fitting tribute for their loved ones who are buried here and this permanent memorial will ensure that these lives, however short, will always be remembered.”

Memorial Plot Z1 is an area in City Cemetery used for the burial of both babies and adults.

The babies buried there were stillborn or died shortly after birth, with the hospital or social services taking responsibility for their burial. The last burial in the plot was in 1996.

While the Council holds records for all the babies buried within the plot, no one individual owns specific graves and therefore there are no individual headstones or memorials.

In 2015, following a request from William Humphrey MLA that a permanent memorial be placed at the plot, Council undertook an engagement process with some of the families who had loved ones buried there, and agreed to provide funding of £50,000 towards the project.

Speaking on behalf of the families, Agnes Close said: “This has been a very poignant and emotional day for the families of the babies who are resting here at the Baby Haven.

“To finally see this beautiful memorial in place gives our babies the dignity of recognition, and also serves as acknowledgment of a loss suffered by so many. We would like to thank William Humphrey for his support and for making the request for a permanent memorial to Belfast City Council.”

The memorial has been created in Kilkenny limestone by sculptor Charlotte Howarth.

Charlotte said: “It has been a great privilege to work with and collaborate with the families and focus group involved with this project.

“I hope that this memorial will offer some comfort to the many families whose babies are buried in the Baby Haven. The lasting nature of the memorial should, I hope, offer reassurance that the babies will now never be forgotten.”
Baby Haven memorial