Poster Boy Speaks 1923

by Caroline Bracken

Section 14(10) of the Dublin Police Act 1842 makes guilty of an offence every person who, without the consent of the owner or occupier, shall affix any posting bill or other paper against or upon any building, wall, fence or pole…The maximum penalty is a fine of £2.

Me and Tommy meet at six in the morning.
Ma thinks we’re at first Mass in the Pro-Cathedral
not doing nixers postering every bare wall in Dublin.

We make glue from flour and boiled water
mixed in an old toffee can cadged out of Mr Kavanagh’s shop
on George’s Street. He throws us a couple of lemon sherbets

and orange caramels if he’s in the mood
God bless the work, boys letting on he doesn’t know
what we’re up to. The foreman on our painting job

donated some old paintbrushes without us even asking
and we’re off, racing round town, flat caps hiding our faces
posters rolled under arms, our messages shout in black ink:




Yesterday Dev got arrested in Ennis at an election rally
Feast of the Assumption, women in the crowd shrieking and fainting
as if they’d seen a vision of the Blessed Virgin herself

ascending to heaven. The guards in Kilmainham Gaol
walked him down the spiral iron staircase to isolation cell 59.
Today we plaster the news over his election posters

risk a fine and worse – our Ma’s wrath if we’re caught
but it’s worth it and no one notices two boys on the mitch.
No one worries that soon we will be men.

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem was inspired by a photography of a young man pasting the news of DeValera’s arrest over a DeValera election poster (Hulton-Deutsch Collection). It was composed in Poetry as Commemoration workshops held at the Lexicon Library, Dun Laoighaire in July 2022. The workshops were led by poet Catherine Ann Cullen.