An Unmanageable Woman

by Marion Cox

I dream of your name typeset on parchment
rolling off printing presses: Dorothy McArdle.

I wish you appeared in my history book,
A dull, small-font volume with just a few pictures,
even fewer women, yet you never came up
beside Heaney or Kinsella on English Paper Two.

I dream of your face, olive-skinned, petite.
Brown eyes sending out boldness, framed
by chestnut hair, bobbed to be neat. A style
favoured by De Valera, to keep things in their place.

He chose you to chronicle those times,
the turbulent birth of our new Free State,
recording the Long Fellow in all his glory, yet
still he dubbed you ‘an unmanageable woman’.

I wish you could see Women of the Revolution
across library shelves now. Beaten in prison yards,
you chronicled the trauma, forbidden news
of injured females, in a volume of earth-bound hues
based on truth – not simply supernatural tales.

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.