Relatives of Hillsborough disaster victims at emotional park ceremony

By Maurice Garvey

A BALLYFERMOT family welcomed relatives of Hillsborough disaster victims for an emotional memorial service in Phoenix Park on Saturday.

A number of families from Liverpool were invited to Dublin by Paddy Browne, from the Dublin 15 Liverpool supporters club, and by Cherry Orchard resident Lisa Maher, for the launch of an Irish Oak tree in the park.

Ballyfermot Hillsborough memorial service August 2016

Lisa, a lifelong Liverpool FC fan, attended the final Anfield memorial service in April, to pay tribute to the 96 victims of the 1989 FA Cup semi-final disaster in Sheffield – a tragedy which led to a massive inquiry and new regulations for safer stadia in England.

Lisa was moved by the tribute and, along with Paddy, they wanted to offer their solidarity with their Liverpool friends by inviting them over for the weekend.

Ballyfermot Hillsborough memorial service August 3 2016

“It was incredible,” said Lisa.

“The weather wasn’t great all day, but all of a sudden during the service, the breeze stopped, and the sun burst through, onto the tree, and onto the flag. It was still raining everywhere else but near the tree.”

She continued: “To be honest, it kind of freaked me out. I’ve never seen anything like it, but it was like a sign from God. Even the priest said he could feel a strong presence.”

Ballyfermot Hillsborough memorial service August 1 2016

After the ceremony, the group retired to The Cottage Inn in Bluebell, where staff had laid on a red and white party.

Lisa was joined by her partner Stephen Power, children Jordan and Nicole, her mother Margaret, brother Paul, relatives Ann-Marie Sweeney, Cillian Sweeney and Josh Maher, and Mark Farnam from the D15 club, who did a lot of fundraising for the event.

Lisa continued: “I’d like to thank Barry and all the staff at the Cottage Inn. We couldn’t believe the trouble they went to – we were overwhelmed.”

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