She is Constance Markievicz,
a leader,
in the Irish revolution,
who – if you can believe it –
is more fearsome than your ma.
She is also…
Margaret Skinnider,
who, in truth, I had to google.
She is you, studying your history
much better than your da.

She is Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington,
who formed the Irish Women’s Franchise League,
She is Irish women, finally,
going out to rock the vote.
She is the first woman to be president:
the awesome Mary Robinson,
followed by the majestic Mary McAleese,
who said this (and I quote):

“We are a vibrant, first-world country,
but we have a humbling third-world memory.”
And it’s true,
we do have a very complicated
relationship with our spuds.
She dies in the potato famine,
But she’s also making a Tayto sandwich,
it’s a long way from the desperate days
of digging up the duds.

She produces the hair-raising Riverdance,
She is Moya Doherty
who discovered that the world won’t end
if Irish dancers use their arms
She co-founds the Abbey Theatre
She is Lady Augusta Gregory
Giving birth to the Playboy of the Western World
and giving literature a kick in arse

She is Anne Enright,
winning the Booker Prize
The clue is in the title
That’s a very prestigious award
for illuminating books.
She is Maeve Binchy,
who says her characters,
Are like these little ugly ducklings
Who eventually, through her stories
Become much more confident ducks.

She’s an actor, like Maureen O’ Hara,
Who your Grandad really fancied
She’s Brenda Fricker, winning an Oscar,
For her role in ‘My Left Foot’
she is Dorothy Stopford Price
Who pioneered the BCG vaccine
So that you, me and your Grandad
could kick TB in the nuts

If Sonia O’ Sullivan was in Harry Potter
Her patronus would be a gazelle
She is an Irish middle-distance runner
becoming champion of the world
She is Katie Taylor, a boxer,
winning an Olympic golden medal
So, now, it’s a compliment in Ireland
to say, “yer man fights like a girl.”

She is Eithne Pádraigín Ní Bhraonáin
but her friends just call her Enya
I think she has sold more albums
than there are gallons in the Irish sea
She is Anne Devlin, an inspiration
not wealthy, or well-educated
but it is only those with ideas above their station
who will ever become the true revolutionaries.

She is Gráinne Mhaol, who shaved her hair
which brought shame on her parents
to make her father take her sailing
she became The Pirate Queen
She screaming “that’s not fair”
She’s running up the stairs, wailing,
She’s you getting grounded for ages
if you ever try that shit with me

She is Anne Louise Gilligan
and Katherine Zappone
who fight with the Irish system
to recognise the extraordinary
(and also ordinary)
love of two women
which leads to marriage equality
She is Sister Stan
fighting for the homeless
and against the way
we treat our immigrants
She is Markéta Irglová
saying,
“Fair play to those who dare to dream.”

She is Sinéad O’ Connor, singing,
of heartbreaking holy violence
then ripping up a picture of the Pope
live on American TV
She is Mary Raffery, and Catherine Corless
chipping away at a wall of silence
Finding out Sinéad was right
when she said
“Fight the real enemy.”

She is a woman getting interrupted
by some entitled, rotund fuckwit
Who has the gall to judge every woman
by the size of her bum.
She lives in a country, so corrupted
that it was once almost bankrupted
where women are almost never fairly paid
for all the work that they’ve done

To love her is to question her
Celebrate her,
but never celebrate her too much
She is all the women I forgot
and all the women who are forgotten
she should be judged
by how she treats
the most vulnerable of us.

She is your sister,
who will never understand this poem
Who may one day have to live
in a residential home
Don’t ever feel bad about that
All I ever ask of you
Is to do your very best
Perhaps, be a better poet?
This is not good, and I know it
But it’s the best that I could do.

 

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