In Glasnevin

by Jane Clarke

For Elizabeth O’Farrell and Julia Grenan

Finding the words carved
on their plain, granite headstone,

faithful comrade, lifelong friend,
reminds me of my grandmother

who used to say, there was none of that
in my day. I wish I could ask
the faithful Julia and Elizabeth
were they grateful for the mercy

of sharing a grave, did they choose
those words to save them from shame,

did they have someone to tell
that though the words said so much,

they didn’t say enough, and when
they nursed the rebellion’s wounded,

did they question the cost
of a new (free) state.

Cover image: ‘Group of women activists, 1920.’ Irish Political Figures Photographic Collection, National Library of Ireland. NLI Ref: NPA POLF126 (No  known copyright restrictions)