The Rosie Hackett Bridge campaign – the rediscovery of a forgotten history by Angelina Cox

Posted on September 03, 2013 at 04:09 PM

The Rosie Hackett Bridge

Angelina Cox is a member of Labour Youth and was one of the group of Labour Youth members who proposed naming Dublin's newest bridge after Rosie Hackett. In this post Angelina tells us about the campaign. 

The Rosie Hackett Bridge Campaign successfully lobbied for the Marlborough St. Bridge in Dublin to be named after trade unionist and 1916 veteran, Rosie Hackett. 

I started the campaign back in October 2012 after noticing a campaign backing James Connolly for the bridge’s name. My first thought, on seeing this, was to support it – Connolly, after all, is the major socialist hero of the left in Ireland. However, after giving thought to his established notoriety, it seemed more interesting to commemorate a lesser known but equally commendable figure, in order to broaden our understanding of Dublin’s history. The Labour Movement, in particular, has a proud and bountiful tradition of activism. We have an exceptional record in recognising and lionising our historic foot soldiers. I was of the opinion that recognising and paying due regard to the whole range of historic figures in the Labour tradition could only serve to further enhance the historic prestige which the Labour Movement enjoys. James Connolly, the ‘big’ Jim Larkin, and Tom Johnson are rightly regarded as our most prominent representatives. However, constantly relying on those few men to tell the historic story of the Labour Movement only tells part of our story. 

With this in mind, I carried out some research on figures who were connected with the Dublin area and who fought for worker’s rights – the name Rosie Hackett was perfect. 

Rosie was an ordinary woman forced into action through extraordinary circumstances. She fought for the society she wanted to live in - a fairer more equal society. She joined the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union when it was founded in 1909 and worked as a messenger in Jacob’s biscuit factory in Dublin. In 1911, the male workers withdrew their labour in pursuit of better working conditions and Rosie was one of the first women to come out in sympathy with them. Rosie helped to galvanise and organise more than 3000 women in the Jacobs Factory to withdraw their labour in protest. The women were successful and they received better working conditions and an increase in pay. Rosie was just 18 years old at the time.

My hope is that Rosie’s memory will serve as a testament to the struggles hard fought and won, and an important reminder of the battles still raging – struggles against unemployment and emigration – and her bridge will serve as motivation for young women and men, today, to go out and fight for the society we want to live in and want our children to grow up in, a society free from debt and corruption, a prosperous and equal society.  

The campaign to commemorate Rosie was fought by three young women – Angelina Cox, Lisa Connell, and Jeni Gartland. The Rosie Hackett Bridge campaign used Facebook, Twitter, an online petition, a public meeting and endless emails, telephone calls and meetings with the councillors to put forward the case for selecting Rosie. I hope our successful campaign is just the start of a wider agenda to properly commemorate the forgotten stories of ordinary people’s struggles and sacrifices for social change. 

 

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