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Last Updated: Monday, 21 March, 2005, 10:04 GMT
Church remembers Irish roots
Charlotte Church at the garden opening
Charlotte's grandmother grew up in the Newtown area
Charlotte Church has spoken of her Irish roots at the opening of a memorial garden in Cardiff.

The 19-year-old singer was there the day after watching her new boyfriend Gavin Henson and his Welsh teammates win the Grand Slam decider on Saturday.

She was on hand with First Minister Rhodri Morgan to open the Newtown Memorial Garden to mark Irish links with the building of the city's docks.

McKay, her grandmother's maiden name, is among those inscribed in bricks.

The garden in Tyndall Street, on the edge of Cardiff Bay, was designed by artist David Mackie, with names of former residents inscribed onto bricks used in its construction.

The families, who escaped famine in Ireland, helped in the construction of the Bute Docks in the 1840s and their descendants continued living in the area, until it was demolished in the 1960s.

Charlotte, who helped perform the national anthem before Saturday's game, recalled how grandmother grew up in the area.

She said: "The Newtown Memorial Garden means so much to my entire family.

"It's really great to have somewhere that represents part of my family history and with my grandmother's maiden name, McKay, inscribed in the bricks it will always be special to me."

Rhodri Morgan and Charlotte Church at the garden opening
Rhodri Morgan says it will remind Cardiff of its links with Ireland

Opening the garden, First Minister Rhodri Morgan told the crowd of 500: "This beautiful garden is tangible, visual reminder for everyone alive today and future generations to come of a key part of the history of our capital city and its links with Ireland."

"As the new Cardiff Bay emerges around us it is important that we remember the old Cardiff docks that was the foundation of our industrial prosperity a century and a half ago."

Money for the completion of the garden was raised over 10 years of fund-raising.

Mary Sullivan, who chairs the Newtown Association said: "Thanks to the tremendous support we have received over the last decade our dream has finally become a reality.

"We are so thrilled with the garden and hope that it will forever be a place for families and friends of Newtown to visit reflect and remember."


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