Tuesday, 31 January 1984 was a cold, wet, winter's day in Granard, County Longford. That afternoon, the fifteen-year-old school girl left her Cnoc Mhuire Secondary School and made her way to a Grotto dedicated to the Virgin Mary at the top of her small hometown in the Irish midlands. It was here beneath the statue of Our Lady, that she gave birth, alone, to her infant son.
At around 4 pm that day some children on their way home from school saw Ann's schoolbag on the ground and discovered her lying in the Grotto. They alerted a passing farmer who rushed to the nearby priest's house to inform him of the chilling discovery of Ann and her already deceased baby in the adjacent grotto. The priest's response to his request for help was; "It's a doctor you need".
Ann, still alive but hemorrhaging heavily, was carried to the house of the Parish Priest from where a doctor was phoned. She was then driven in the doctor's car to her parents house in the centre of the town. By the point an ambulance arrived it was already too late.
Ann Lovett and her child were quietly buried three days later in Granardkill cemetery.
A quarter of a century on from a tragedy that shocked the nation, many questions remain unanswered about the deaths of Ann Lovett and her infant child.
On Saturday night, 4 February 1984, Ireland's most popular television show was coming to an end, when the host read this headline from the next day's Sunday Tribune newspaper: "Girl, 15, Dies Giving Birth In A Field".
With the words "Nothing terribly exciting there", the newspaper was cast down on the studio floor by the Late Late Show host, Gay Byrne.
This moment marked the first introduction the world had to the story of Ann Lovett and her newborn child.
A phonecall had been made to the Dublin newspaper by an anonymous caller from Granard and the story, broken in the Sunday Tribune by Emily O'Reilly, drew the attention of the world to the tragic incident. The next day Granard was swamped with national and international media.
The story shocked the nation and left many asking how such a thing could happen. For others it was an opportunity to finally reveal similar stories that had remained hidden for decades. The Gay Byrne show on RTÉ Radio began to receive letters from all over the country – "Too many letters. They couldn't be ignored."
The local community and clergy, including the order of nuns at the school which Ann had attended remained tight lipped, apart from a terse statement, denying any knowledge of the teenager's pregnancy.
While the statement issued by the nuns, following legal advice, said they "did not know" about her pregnancy they subsequently, refused to confirm whether they had suspected it or not.
Rumours also abounded about the identity of the child's father and the difficult family circumstances in which Ann herself was reared.
Many residents of Granard, accused the media of being overly intrusive and of wrongly attaching blame to the community for the tragedy.
In National Archives of Ireland documents released in December 2014, a letter was revealed written by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Armagh to poet Christopher Daybell which claimed Lovett's "sad death reflects more on her immaturity than on any lack of Christian charity".
An inquest was held in Mullingar a few weeks later and found that Ann's death was due to irreversible shock caused by haemorrhage and exposure during childbirth.
The inquest also confirmed that, contrary to claims emanating from the local community, some people did indeed know about Ann's condition before her death.
Subsequent enquiries by the Gardaí, the Department of Education and the Midlands Health Board have yet to be published leaving the tragic events of that day and the circumstances that forced a young girl to leave her classroom on a cold, wet winters day to give birth alone in a grotto, still shrouded in uncertainty.
Ann Lovett's death came just four months after the outcome of a divisive abortion referendum in which a two-thirds majority voted to enshrine the right to life of the unborn in the constitution, creating confusion over where that left the rights of the mother.
In the ensuing public debate, the tragic events at Granard became symbolic of the emerging clash between church and state.
In 1987 Dutch film maker Leo de Boer made a short documentary about Ann Lovett's death. For Ann Lovett 1968–1984 is a 15-minute poetic impression of Ann's last day.
Twelve years after Ann's death, Lorelei Harris, a producer on the Gay Byrne programme, decided to make a radio documentary on the letters sent to the show in the immediate aftermath of the Granard tragedy.
She sought the opinions of local people on the pregnancy and death of Ann Lovett. Journalists and broadcasters also talked about their experiences at the time. Contributors to this documentary include Emily O'Reilly, Kevin O'Connor and people from Granard. The "Letters to Ann" were read by Aidan Matthews and John MacKenna, with Ann-Marie Horan reading from the original Gay Byrne show letters.
In 2004, TG4 produced a 30-minute documentary in their Scannal series about the tragedy.
In October 1987, Cry Before Dawn released a song titled "Girl in the Ghetto", which had been written as "Girl in the Grotto". It is a reflection on the Ann Lovett story.
"Middle of the Island", by Christy Moore, from his 1989 album Voyage, is another song examining the society in which Ann Lovett lived and how she could have died in such circumstances. The song also appears in the Christy Moore Box Set under the title "Ann Lovett" and has also appeared on the Traveller album from 1999, where it was used to introduce "The Well Below The Valley", recorded live at Glastonbury festival.
The song "Helena," written by Maria Doyle Kennedy and released on her 2001 album Charm was inspired by Ann Lovett's story.
The Longford-based Fabulous Beast dance company debuted, in 2003, a version of the ballet Giselle, in which Ann Lovett's story was again incorporated. Giselle has toured the globe and won many awards.
In 2014, a song and video were released by Jj Kikola entitled "(They Were) Deaf To Her Child's Cries". The song is written in memory of Ann and her child, and was released two weeks before the 30th anniversary of the tragedy. Kikola, in a subsequent interview cited his inspiration for writing the song, as being the fact that the event has been largely unknown to the younger generation in Ireland.
"What moved me the most was the image of a frightened young girl who felt there was no-one she could turn to for help in her crisis. It's easy to say in retrospect that the support would have been there if she had only asked for it but clearly she did not feel that revealing her pregnancy would have been acceptable."
According to Kikola "The whole concept of passing on knowledge; folklore, education and of learning as human beings is to examine these events and make sure they don't happen again."
Much of the video for the song was filmed on location in Granard.
The 2006 novel A Swift Pure Cry by Irish author Siobhan Dowd was partially inspired by Ann Lovett's death.
The 2015 Poetry Competition 'A Poem for Ireland' shortlisted the 1991 Paula Meehan poem 'The Statue of the Virgin at Granard Speaks' which references the death of Ann Lovett