In Honour of Kathleen O’Callaghan

by Breeda Murphy

“They pushed me away, shoved me away”
As I tried to assist my husband that bitterly cold March day
Murdered in front of me, in our home, by the Tans
Who came with rifles; three to one man
My husband was no threat, yet he lay dead.

In the Dáil for Limerick I took my seat
Till ‘22 then with Sinn Fein, I refused to greet
The stench of hypocrisy all too clear
Our loved ones lost, we hold them so dear
Could you ever think it would take over ninety years
for a female TD to take her seat here?

What we lost was more than blood, sweat and tears
A catalogue of women’s crafted dreams
To be met with indifference; ridicule on occasion
That spawned a wholly ignorant generation
Ripe only for indoctrination

They stole what was ours equally to share
While some wept, others stayed silent; many dared
to challenge though suppressed with time
We rise up again 100 years on, retracing the line
They won’t again ‘push me away’ is the sign

As with voices a-new we reclaim our space
You who “pushed me away” revealed in disgrace.

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.