A rose

For the dverse prompt.

photo ©Tomeq Zag


A piece of history, I own,

a link in the chain,

like so many hands,

of Mary and Jane,

Maire and Sinead,

holding hands, child and crone,

last and first to be made,

the hands, young and old

who had nothing to claim

to pass on and bequeath,

naught but a name.

Like the name of the rose,

with symbols so many, so heavy and rich,

whatever it means, now nobody knows.


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

69 thoughts on “A rose”

    1. Thanks Sarah. That’s all it is really. I hate names that are made up so the parents can be ‘original’. A friend told me she had an unpleasant time at the infant school when she took in her son who has an ‘original’ name. The mother of another kid with the ‘original’ name accused her of stealing her son’s name! Bonkers.

      1. My children both have very Irish names. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but they both spend a lot of time spelling them out for people and explaining why they have Irish names and English accents…

  1. Mary Jane reminds me of the Leonard Cohen song FAMOUS BLUE RAIN COAT. Hippy names for kids in the 60’s are less cool today for sure.

    1. I was going to say I feel sorry for people in their fifties with names like Rainbow but then I think of all the handles I wouldn’t even recognise as names that people give their kids nowadays, and I think, yeah, Rainbow has a certain something to it.

  2. So wait, is Sinead an Irish form of Jane? I think it’s lovely how your name, like the rose, has meant so much to so many for countless generations that now it is a mystery, a beauty-in-eye-of-beholder type of name.

    1. Thanks Amaya. The Church introduced Christian names but they were gaelicized like Tomás, Micháel, Siobhán and Sinéad was the Gaeilc form of Jane, Jeannette, etc. They’re not the oldest Gaelic names that go back much further, of deities and heroes. I love history 🙂

  3. My daughter is named Jeanne after her great grandmother who was also called Jane by some of her relatives. I did not realize there were so many other connections. Beautiful either way. (K)

    1. It’s sort of cultural integration. The monks replaced the old names of deities and heroes with saints’ names, but they gaelicized them. They don’t have the same etymological origins at all. Still it kept the monks happy. Here you find the name Jane, but it’s still pronounced the same as the French Jeanne.

  4. when a name can link generations that’s a beautiful source of history – I love how you tell us tat back in the day when there was nothing to pass down a name was worth more than gold. this was the best part of your poem Jane

    1. Thanks Gina. It was a form of respect, I think. They always named children like that, first daughter after the father’s mother, second after the mother’s mother, then after father’s grandmother etc. We’re talking big families here 🙂

      1. we had a similar tradition, Anne was a name that featured prominently but my dad broke that chain with me. I continued with my eldest girl as her middle name. i felt it was important to have that continuity. Big families make for big loud gatherings…fun!!

      2. Anne Veronica was my paternal grandmother and my younger sister. I had the name of my maternal grandmother. In our family we did it the other way round—mother’s father or mother was served first 🙂 My sister hated her name. We’ve all kept more or less to the tradition with one major exception, none of us has called their children after they partner’s family. We’ve all stuck to the Irish side. The English don’t seem to bother that much, and their parents all had awful names so…

      3. when we are named after a particular relative we see at family gatherings it can be a source of comparison of character and behaviour all owed to a name I suppose, hence the dislike!!

      4. I know the English upper and middle classes used to name children after relatives they wanted to cozy up to, especially those without children of their own. very cynical.

  5. I love the thought of the chain of hands of the different children and crones through history. Rose is a lovely traditional name, too. I have my mother’s name as my middle name, all I have left of her bar a few photographs, and Ellen, although her first name is Grainne, goes by her middle name, Ellen, in the tradition of all the Nellies and Ellens on my mother’s side of the family.

    1. My youngest is a Nellie 🙂 Grainne is a favourite name of mine, favourite character too. Did you know it probably means something to do with the sun/ghrian? A really powerful symbol there.

    1. In my class at school there were four Janes, a Janet and a Jeannette, five Mary’s a Marie, and a Maria. That didn’t leave much else! I like my name. It’s a blue name, like the sky 🙂

  6. Jane by any other name is still a rose 🌹, This was lovely Jane, A nice inverse symmetry to the very thought of a name holding meaning. Sometimes it can just hang there and simply be.

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