Naming a Bridge

by Catherine Ann Cullen

for Rosie Hackett, the first woman
honoured by a Dublin bridge

To make a bridge, you first must see the gap,
then fling yourself full-length across the space
like Rosie Hackett did for sixty years:
the factory girl who did not know her place.

Ah, Rosie knew that place and all its wrongs:
the sixty-hour week on the factory floor,
the union badge that barred her from her work,
the strike turned back upon the locked-out poor.

Her life’s three struggles forged one steely frame:
the fight for women, workers and the Plough.
She raised a rebel banner from a roof;
for workers’ holidays, she raised a row.

A name so nearly lost, now set in stone:
to name this bridge reclaims her for her own.

Catherine Ann Cullen is an award-winning poet, children’s writer and songwriter living in Dublin. She is a graduate of the M. Phil in Creative Writing at Trinity College Dublin, and holds a PhD in Creative Writing/Public Works from Middlesex University, London. Cullen was the inaugural Poet in Residence at Poetry Ireland from October 2019 and is currently a Post Doctoral Fellow at University College Dublin. Catherine Ann has led several Poetry as Commemoration writing workshops for adults in Dublin.

Photo credit: William Murphy (Creative Commons License)

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem will feature on the Poetry Jukebox installation in IMMA from October 2023 to April 2024.