President Publishes May Day Poem

Fri 1st May, 2020 | 11:00

President publishes May Day poem

Date: Fri 1st May, 2020 | 17:39

President Michael D. Higgins today, 1 May 2020, published a new poem for May Day, or International Workers’ Day.

The poem is dedicated to Mary McPartlan, folk singer and trade union activist. Published on the day that the President addressed a virtual May Day event hosted by SIPTU, the poem pays tribute to the trade union movement.

An audio recording of the President reading the poem is available here.



Of Saturdays Made Holy

(In Memory of Mary McPartlan, Folk Singer & Trade Union Activist)


The night is long and I awake

Recall the making of the march,

On those Saturdays made holy,

The beat of feet behind banners,

That bore the glory of the words,

The call for a life made equal,

Banners held steady for the speech,

Gold threaded, fringed, eyeleted

With care, for the carrying,

To defeat the opposing breeze,

Borne by arms made strong,

From work of mind, of heart and hand.


Those words, sent out to cheers

I search for now,

They are not gone,

Nor is the memory,

Of how they danced, without restraint,

Skipping back and forth to cheers,

In joyful subversion

Of the ordinary.


The echo of that beat of feet behind banners,

On Saturdays made holy

Is slow to come.

Can it be that it is lost,

Perhaps forgotten?

Surely not so.


For in the long sweep of history,

In the stories that will be told,

Others will hear of how behind banners

They marched, women and men

And children too, on Saturdays made holy,

It will be told of how they sometimes won,

And often lost, if never defeated

It will matter that they sometimes wept

On folding, for another day, those banners

That carried words, emancipatory


The night though long

And dawn so slow in breaking

Yet morning light, glorious,

Reveals how from those arrows fledged in history,

That missed their mark in darkness

Have sprung in light some frail fruit trees,

Of hope


In other times, an old planet weary finds new life,

Renewal, from the music of the heart.

And now a new song emerges,

From behind banners gold threaded, again made sacred,

On Saturdays made holy, with words emancipatory,

As voices rise in unison,

And sing of love,

And a new day,

For all humanity.



                                                                                                  MDH May Day, 2020