The Butterfly Garden committee members at the official opening. Photos: Tom Regan

Mayo's Butterfly Garden remembers little lives taken too soon

THE Butterfly Garden, a special place dedicated to all the little lives taken too soon, has been officially opened in Swinford.

The stunning garden is not just a place to remember the lives lost through miscarriages, stillbirth, neonatal, infant and child loss. It is a reminder to their parents that they are not alone.

There is a continuing stigma around the loss of a baby, the large community attendance at the opening celebrations was told. It is hoped the garden will help create an opportunity for conversations to be had about that loss.

The Butterfly Garden is located on the Kilkelly Road in Swinford, at Brabazon Woods, beside the playground. It is a warm, colourful and inviting space that invites all, young and old, to explore, or take time to remember.

The project was initiated two years ago by a group of local bereaved parents who wished to create a memorial garden to bring comfort to bereaved families who have faced miscarriages, stillbirth, infant and child deaths, to know that they are not alone at a time that can feel very lonely.

It is a space full of hope, showing love for the little lives taken too soon.

At the opening ceremony, Stephanie Maloney Diaz spoke about how baby loss can be a very isolating place.

Parents are reminded of their loss every day, she said, and they needed a place to celebrate their little ones, reminding them of the love not the loss and celebrating a little life.

There is, she added, a continuing stigma about baby loss. A quietness each parent has faced. The Butterfly project aims to create an opportunity for conversations, for people to speak their baby's name and celebrate the love that was there.

She urged parents to talk about their babies as there is support out there for you.

This project celebrates and remembers each little life, regardless of age or gestation.

A number of sites were looked at around Swinford but none felt like the one chosen, which was gifted to the group by the Brabazon Woods trustees.

The public were involved in naming the garden, with The Butterfly Garden winning the vote.

Butterflies hold many meanings for people - some see them as a representation of spiritual rebirth, a symbol or sign from babies, or as messengers from their loved ones.

Natasha Durkan-Ginty also addressed the opening and said every county should have a special space like this for reflection.

She said how for many bereaved parents, the image of a butterfly represents a symbol of innocence and purity. The garden fully embraces this idea.

This wasn't just a memorial garden, she said. It also creates awareness of baby and child loss, a subject which is still somewhat taboo. The garden is for everyone, no matter how many years ago they suffered their loss. Everyone is on the journey together.

Fr. Dermot Meehan blessed the site before a plaque was unveiled and the ribbon cut to declare The Butterfly Garden officially opened.

Tribute was paid to all involved in bringing the project to fruition.

The members of The Butterfly Garden committee are Stephanie Maloney Diaz, Anita McNicholas O'Sullivan, Natasha Durkan-Ginty, Sarah McNicholas, Emma Kirrane, Bernadette King, Karen Gallagher and Emma McHugh.