An Imagining

by Bern Butler

(in the home of Jennie Wyse Power after the inaugural meeting of Cumann na Saoirse, Mansion House, Dublin. 13th March 1922)

Possibly, in my chair
with my husband by the fire,
a second glass of claret.

Most likely, as we talked
still in my ears
the No! No! cries of women

in the banquet hall that night
ire on their lips, and on mine,
for being labelled furies in the Dáil.

Maybe, as I unwind, recollections rise
and fall in embers, images of friends:
the face of Anne Parnell,

The O’Rahilly in our café,
Arthur Griffith, Sean McDermott
blur with scenes in rooms upstairs

where the Declaration was signed,
Countess Markevich slept the night before
the rising, and later Michael Collins hid on the run.

But be certain as I start
toward bed, albeit a little sad
that phase has finished in my life

I understand the toughest battle
in the oldest war
still waits ahead and vow to continue

the fight for women’s equal rights,
for me, never second citizens,
or chattel, in the Irish Free State.


This poem was composed during a series of creative writing workshops for Comhrá na mBan Centenary Writers Group led by Emily Cullen at Westside Library, Galway during September – December 2023, as part of the ‘Reflections – A Commemoration of the Irish Women of 1923.’ This project was presented by Galway City Council, Galway Public Libraries & Galway City Museum & supported by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media.