Ray Cleere remembers the remarkable Dubliner


On Tuesday, May 20th, 2014, 10 years ago, the Rosie Hackett Bridge was officially opened in Dublin. Linking Marlborough Street with Hawkins Street, the new bridge was primarily built to carry the cross-city Luas line, but was expected to cater for other public transport and pedestrians. It was and is the first bridge over the River Liffey to be named after a woman: the Dublin-born trade unionist Rosanna ‘Rosie’ Hackett (1893 – 1976).

A bridge at that location was proposed by Dublin City Council as far back as 1997. A commemorative naming committee of Dublin City Council published a newspaper advertisement in 2013 and invited submissions from members of the public on a name for the bridge. The Chairman of the commorative committee at the time, Councillor Dermot Lacey, said there was an argument for naming the bridge after a woman. At their monthly meeting in the City Hall in September 2013, Dublin City Council voted to call the new bridge over the River Liffey at Marlborough Street after Rosie Hackett, a trade unionist who co-founded the Irish Women Workers’ Union in 1911.

The Lord Mayor of Dublin at the time, Oisín Quinn, officiated at the naming ceremony which took place 10 years ago on Tuesday, May 20th, 2014, at 3p.m.
Christened ‘Rosanna’, Rosie Hackett was born in Dublin in 1893, in a tenement building in Bolton Street. Her father died when she was young; her mother remarried in 1911 and moved to Abbey Street. At the time of the 1911 census Rosie lived in Abbey Street with her mother, stepfather, sister, stepsister and a lodger.

In terrible working conditions, Rosie worked in Jacob’s biscuit factory in Bishop Street. In August 1911 and then 18 years old, Rosie became active in organising the 3,000 strong women workforce in the factory at the time. They were successful and obtained better working conditions and in increase in pay through withdrawal of their labour.

In 1909 the Irish Transport and General Workers Union (I.T.G.W.U.) was founded two weeks after the famous Jacob’s strike. Rosie co-founded the Irish Women Workers Union (I.W.W.U.), along with Delia Larkin.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own