by A. M. Cousins

After Mrs Annie Coyne’s second application for a Military Service Pension in 1951. 



Annie Coyne’s pension application stated:

she’d done all she could in both fights –

as a member of Comanamon in Aughagower –

staying awake in the late hours of the night,

ready to give up her bed when the latch rattled; 

nurse, cook, provider of food and fags for the boys.

She kept a lookout for the Black and Tans 

and fearlessly carried dispatches hidden in her bodice.

She never got a penny from anyone.


A medal was awarded in her old age

and ten bob a week to ease her last years.



At Tullabards, where the backroad from the village

takes a sharp bend, Mary Walsh stayed awake

in the late hours too, anticipating 

the lift of the latch, the clatter of a man’s boots

kicked off on the scullery floor;

the soft brush of his stockinged feet on the stairs;

then the scrape of a match, its burst of sulphur

as he lit her candle and slipped into bed beside her. 


She made no pension application, nothing 

came her way but the few shillings he left 

under her pillow to provide for the child

she would name after the English king.

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem was composed in a Poetry as Commemoration workshop held as part of UCD Festival on June 10th 2023.  The workshop was led by writer Catherine Ann Cullen.