Rachael Hegarty’s May Day 1974 is an act of remembrance and reclamation. It not only commemorates each innocent victim of those bombings but restores a sense of their unique individuality; a deeper understanding of the lives they were leading and the stolen lives they might have led; the dreams they possessed and the dreams they were denied the chance to ever see realised. It is richly humane, sobering and profoundly moving.
What an extraordinary book this is. What a challenge, to give voices to the dead. And how triumphantly Rachael Hegarty succeeds, how utterly convincing these poems are in their delicacy, their humour, and the truth of their language; how well her words become these people, who now become the protagonists of their own lives. There are many lovely things here, in this book that is full of love.
Here is a profound recuperation and remembrance, centred on the victims of one of the most shocking attacks on the Republic in recent history. The harrowing verbatim witness of the relatives is juxtaposed with Dr. Hegarty’s reconstructions of the interior lives of those murdered. Their hopes and fears, their work lives and family lives, their dreams for their children and their friends, are imagined in lucent and empathetic poetry. This powerful book adds impetus to the long struggle by the relatives, with the selfless and tireless dedication of Margaret Urwin, to simply find out what happened, and to get justice for their lost loved ones. Here the dead cry out for truth in poems that return to us their beauty, their dignity and their magnificent humanity.