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Parents of Ana Kriegel plant cherry blossom in memory of their daughter

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Ana Kriegel’s parents Geraldine and Patric Kriegel on a bench after they planted a white cherry blossom in her memory. Photo: Frank McGrath

Ana Kriegel’s parents Geraldine and Patric Kriegel on a bench after they planted a white cherry blossom in her memory. Photo: Frank McGrath

Ana Kriegel’s parents Geraldine and Patric Kriegel on a bench after they planted a white cherry blossom in her memory. Photo: Frank McGrath

The parents of Ana Kriegel planted a tree in memory of their daughter yesterday.

It was a white cherry blossom planted on a sunny patch of lawn just by the patio of the Leixlip Manor Hotel. It was a supposed to be a low-key affair, a way for friends and the community to remember Ana and to offer their support. Dozens gathered for the ceremony, in shirt sleeves and dresses, as the sun shone.

At 5.20pm, the crowds parted for a lone piper who made his way to the lawn playing his plaintive tune. Geraldine and Patric Kriegel followed him, holding hands tightly.

"OK," Geraldine mouthed before the couple stepped forward into the gaze of the cameras. She read a short speech: "We are grateful to the owners of the Leixlip Manor Hotel and, of course, Majella, for this lovely idea of having a special place to remember Ana.

"Ana used to love coming her with Patric for lunch, during school holidays and was disappointed when it closed.

"Shortly before she died, she discovered that it had reopened as Leixlip Manor and she was delighted and said to Patric: 'Papa can we go up to the hotel for lunch again like we used to?'

"Well, she never made it for lunch but she is here in spirit now - so let's remember that and come back and spend a few moments with her from time to time."

Geraldine thanked their friends for organising everything for them yesterday and everyone there: "Thank you all for coming to join us today and for the wonderful support that all of you have given us over the past year."

A hearty round of applause went up and several faces among the crowd blinked furiously to hold back tears. Not Geraldine and Patric, who took up their shovels and tucked with gusto and some laughter into the mound of soil to bed in the young cherry tree that would grow and blossom into another reminder of their precious daughter.

More applause as they completed the task. They moved to the teak bench draped with a white sheet and with ceremony whipped it away. Beneath was a simple plaque bearing the words that Geraldine and Patric first uttered on the steps of the Criminal Courts of Justice on the day earlier in June when two boys were convicted of her murder.

"Forever loved.

Forever cherished

Ana Kriegel"

Ana's parents took a seat on the bench, holding the plaque between them. It was an emotional moment.

Majella Kernan-Finlay, the general manager of the Leixlip Manor Hotel, explained how yesterday's ceremony came about. The Kreigels held a reception there after Ana's funeral last year.

"The day of the funeral, I suggested that if they wanted, we would plant a tree in the garden in her honour and a place to sit, so they could come and watch it blossom," said Majella.

"They loved the idea. Geraldine and Patric chose the spot where the tree was planted and where a seat would go beside it.

"They also chose a white cherry tree. It flowers in May which is the month that Ana died," she said.

Sunday Independent