1916: The Bridget McKane Story

This is a little piece I wrote for the Sunday Independent 1916 Bloom competition. The winners were unvelied yesterday so I can publish this now. I hope you enjoy it.

The background to the piece is the story of young Bridget McKane who was shot accidentally by volunteers fleeing the GPO. The manner of her death is historical record but story itself is my own invention.

I was just 15 the Easter our boys took the GPO. Just 15 when they took up their guns and made their stand. We sent them out, some as young as me with a passion for a free country to call their own.

I was just 15 when the cherry blossoms bloomed that Spring. Petals fell on our heads while he told me the rebels were going to fight and soon we would be free. Excitement flashed in his eyes as he pulled me close, the sun shone down and I could feel it heat my bones while we kissed.

He was just 15 too when they fought for our freedom, the bullets raining down on our streets, we went hungry while the battle raged, praying each night the morning would bring peace again.

I was just 15 when they fled the GPO…..I can see it all still. Shots rang out and suddenly the world span out of focus. It happened all at once yet it was the longest minute of my short life; my dying took no time at all…Mammy held my hand. I tried to speak but I was gone.

He was only 15 when he lay wounded on the streets. His face changed from the boy I knew. His eyes were dim as he lay in the rubble, the reality of rebellion now before him. Scared by memories he would never forget. I passed him by. I did not stop. A veil lay between us now. He would live to fight again but I was a spirit of the rising joined by my brothers and sisters in death. We walked through the chaos and the grief, unnoticed by our kin.

We did not ask to die for this cause but we gave our lives just the same; will we be forgotten or remembered by our people alongside the heroes of the day? I paused outside the GPO, a shell where so much hope had gathered and then been lost.

The cause. It was not my cause though it was the cause of my people. I died for them I suppose but I wanted to live. I didn’t even know what life was all about when it was taken from me.

So remember me please this Easter 2016. Remember my name amongst the bold and the brave. I was Bridget McKane. I did not ask to die, I wanted most to live. Remember me when springtime brings the cherry blossom back. Remember me when the pink petals fall from their trees to the streets below. Remember me…remember me.


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