At the Age of Fourteen

By Lydia Coyne, 2nd year.

Object No. 96 Washing machine, 1950s
Irish Agricultural Museum, Johnstown Castle Estate, Co Wexford,

I am the woman of the house,

Here at the age of fourteen.

I mind my six brothers and my ‘aul lad’

All I do is cook, wash and clean.


My mother has disappeared,

I have no notion where.

The thing I find strange is

My family don’t seem to care.


I feed seven hungry men,

At least three times a day.

I can’t complain cause “that’s my job”

Well so the men say.


Our house is the only house for miles,

Which has a washing machine.

My Dad won it in the town raffle.

A pink ticket numbers thirteen.


I wash eight sets of clothes each week

All filthy and scattered with stains.

At least I have this dream machine,

Without it, washing would be a pain.


The times they are a-changing

But for now this is my life.

I’ll live this way for a few more years

Until I walk down the aisle and become a wife…

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