What's in a name?
With these words Rosie Hackett was admitted into a back room of Liberty Hall and the company of James Connolly on the night before Easter Sunday 1916. Last minute details of revolutionary plans and the setting of the Proclamation of Independence on the printing presses were not under threat from Rosie. Rosie was trusted. Though only 23 years old she was already a veteran of workers’ struggles and bitter labour disputes. Her nationalist credentials were impeccable too.
Born in 1892, young Rosie lived in a two room tenement sandwiched between public houses and more tenements in Bolton Street and shared with her mother, a young widow of 27, her 6 year old sister Catherine and four other adults. By 1911 the household had moved easterly along the river to Old Abbey Street - just a stone’s throw from the bridge which bears her name today. Already Rosie was an active member of the fledgling Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU) and fiercely fought for and won better working conditions and pay for fellow women workers in the Jacobs Biscuit factory.
The bitterly fought Lockout of 1913 saw Rosie lose her job but she retrained as a printer while joining the Irish Citizen Army. When the call to arms came Rosie served alongside the great and the good - Connolly was about in Liberty Hall, Pearse came and went, she took first aid classes with Dr. Kathleen Lynn and saw action in the College of Surgeons and St. Stephens Green with Constance Markievicz and Michael Mallin. Released from Kilmainham Jail she refocused her considerable talents into re-forming the Irish Women Workers’ Union and served the trade union movement for the rest of her working life.
When Dublin City Council gave citizens a voice in naming the new Liffey bridge, Rosie’s cause was fittingly championed by three Labour Youth members: Angelina Cox, Jeni Gartland and Lisa Connell. Following a full Council vote in September 2013, Rosie’s name was chosen from the final set of five which also included Kay Mills, Willie Bermingham, Bram Stoker and Frank Duff. If you’d like to read ‘Crossing the Liffey in style: Rosie Hackett Bridge’ about the naming process, please click to download a copy (PDF, 1.7Mb).