Women of the Republic

by Mary McNutt

I know not their names or from whence they came. 

Archival records will unearth the same.

Not written out, yet not written in. 

History was His, Hers to reclaim.

In the shadows, rarely seen, 

Always ready to intervene,

On the brink of greater things, 

Less than but so much more.

Confidant, scribe, nurse, 

Never knowing who’s at the door.

Maggie, May, Nancy, Rose, 

Lizzie, Esme, Nora, Anne, 

All heard the call spoken low. 

Support the Cause and the man.

Never question or disagree,

 Quietly obey and concur.

Prepare a bed or a meal, 

Address them only as Sir.

Cathleen, Eithne, Deirdre, Bernadette, 

Agnes, Sheila, Bridie, Moll.


Sitting quietly in a room, 

Ears, eyes observing all.

Know not the hour, day or night, 

Soft knock, food, bandages, fags,

On alert, Black and Tans around, 

Signal danger with simple flags

Rebellion, uprising, war 

He was seen, alive or dead.


She was a shadow, on the edge,

Waiting, waiting to be heard.

Nameless, faceless, fearless, 

Their war was differently perceived.

Maud, Loretta, Carmel, Pearl, 

Eimear, Johanna, Teresa, Eve.

Flying columns, laying low, 

Keeping secrets, dispatching plans,

Years ahead, conflict eases, 

Out of the shadows into the bright


Military Service Pensions Act 1924-1949, 

Proof of service, Proof of fight

No written record can be found, 

Oral record and recall not seen.

Grace, Mary, Eithne, Maeve, 

Peggy, Sinead, Rita, Christine

Grown now, a Woman, silent. 

Waiting for an answer, not wanting to presume.


Women of The Republic, The Free State, Eire

I thank you all for the many sacrifices not written on a page,

For years of service to our cause, that continues to this day.

That we as proud inheritors will continue in your light

Illuminate for all of us the reason and the right.

Olivia, Niamh, Sophie, Siobhan, Maureen, Patricia, Ita, Noreen

Your story will be told, for generations now and yet to come.

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem was composed in a Poetry as Commemoration workshop held as part of UCD Festival on June 10th 2023.  The workshop was led by writer Catherine Ann Cullen.