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Mother and daughter reunion

By Tiarnán Ó Muilleoir

In a local version of ‘Who Do You Think You Are’, an English family has made an emotional pilgrimage to the grave of their grandmother in the City Cemetery.

Margaret Douglas Steven-son, Valerie Plesnorlviczh, James Douglas and his wife Margaret Douglas made the trip from Nottingham this week.

The Douglases lost their mother, Kathleen Lennox Cox, in April this year at the age of 98. Her final unfulfilled wish was to return to West Belfast to see her own mother’s grave.
Ethel Mary Cox was from the Falls Road and once owned a local corner shop. The family had fond memories of visiting their grandmother in Belfast and later Scotland as young children.

“Our granny died when we were young,” said Margaret. “She died in February 1956. My mum always wanted to come back and set the stone and the flowers. But she had a load of us lot so it basically never happened.

“My mum died in April and before she died we said we would come over and put a little stone on our granny’s grave.

“So we brought a stone from England to honour her wish. It’s just to say that she was never forgotten.”

“I didn’t ever meet her since I was the youngest, but it’s my mum’s wish and we’re honouring her memory along with that of my grand-mother,” said Valerie.

“Mum was very private about her life. Our mum, as far as we can gather, was in and out of orphanages. Granny had an even harder life. She had three children that died from meningitis. She had a terrible life, she was a young woman in Ireland in times when, if you didn’t have a partner, things were hard.”

It was with only the number of their granny’s unmarked grave – 336 – that the family arrived in West Belfast. And on a beautiful autumn day with the sun shining and the Black Mountain behind us, an Andersonstown News reporter and photographer joined the Douglases in their journey into the past.

And with the help of graveyard workers and cemetery administrator Dara Barrett, the grave was eventually located at the back of the cemetery, sheltered under a tree.

Crosses and lights were placed, spring-flowering bulbs planted and a small headstone dedicated to both Kathleen and Ethel erected. To the air of ‘Galway Bay’, Valerie read out a poem and the family embraced. A mother and her daughter had finally been re-united.

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