Labour, 1923

by Janis Woodgate

So, she pushed her secret out

into the cold hands of a colder woman

who offered deliverance of her black soul.


After two years scrubbing their floors

she was shown the road

and the child, to


St Patrick’s.




A boy, too, was born to me, alone,

though into the warm hands of a lady

who later told me in the corridor


that I was beautiful


and to put a bit of salt in the bath

to heal the wound.

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem was composed in a Poetry as Commemoration workshop led by Mary O’Donnell in Kilkenny Library on March 8th 2023.

This poem references the County Home, Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny in 1923 and three Industrial Schools: St. Patrick’s, Kilkenny, St. Joseph’s, Greenmount, Cork and St. Patrick’s, Upton, Co. Cork.