Wooden cross marks attic baby

MEMORIAL...Fr Austin McGirr, of Star of The Sea in Portstewart with a cross placed at Agherton Graveyard in memory of a baby found in a attic at flats in Portstewart. Included are Ted and Mary Hamilton, and Councillor Sandy Gilkinson. cr11-198MJ
MEMORIAL...Fr Austin McGirr, of Star of The Sea in Portstewart with a cross placed at Agherton Graveyard in memory of a baby found in a attic at flats in Portstewart. Included are Ted and Mary Hamilton, and Councillor Sandy Gilkinson. cr11-198MJ
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A wooden cross has been erected to mark the grave of an unidentified baby found hidden in an attic in Portstewart.

The cross was unveiled at a short ceremony in Agherton Cemetery where the child - whose age, name and sex are still unknown - was buried in a moving cross community ceremony last May.

The infant was wrapped in a newspaper from the 1930s and hidden between the floorboards in the attic of a derelict house at The Promenade, where workmen made the grim discovery in October 2009.

On Friday, at a graveside service, parish priest of Star of the Sea Church in Portstewart, Father Austin McGirr and former Coleraine mayor, Sandy Gilkinson, led prayers and read scriptures.

Councillor Gilkinson told the Times: “A few residents approached me to say that they wished to lay flowers at the grave but they could not find it because it was not marked.

“I approached a local builder, Frank Boyd, who made me a wooden cross and Murdock’s funeral directors in Coleraine provided us with a plaque with the words ‘”Unknown Child, Known of God.”

Speaking during the ceremony, councillor Gilkinson said: “This child was found in a house above the Heathron Diner in Portstewart. We are gathered here today not to judge but to honour the memory of this child and to provide a marker where people can come and lay flowers.”

He also quoted a passage from Mark 10:14, saying: “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”

Fr McGirr said prayers of comfort for the parents of the baby and asked God “to bless this child with everlasting life.”

During a painstaking investigation, Coleraine detectives consulted the Home Office, police forces across the UK, forensic experts, local people, Census records and even one of the UK’s best known chocolate manufacturers in an effort to establish what happened to the baby.

Police believe the child was born and hidden in the house at 29 the Promenade in the 1930s — in addition to a London Evening Standard dated 1935, which was wrapped around the body, a magazine, My Weekly, and a Bourneville chocolate wrapper were also found nearby.