Hackett, Rosanna ('Rosie') (1893–1976), trade unionist, was born 25 July 1893 in the Dublin inner city to Joseph Hackett and his wife Rosanna Mary (née Dunne). Her father, who is believed to have been a barber, died 19 September 1895. In 1901 Rosie was living in a two-room tenement at 27 Bolton Street with her mother, her two uncles John and James Dunne, her aunt Catherine Dunne, her younger sister Christina (b. 1894), and a male lodger. Her mother was the principal earner of their household and worked as a housekeeper. By 1911 Rosanna Mary Hackett had married secondly Patrick Gray, a warehouse caretaker, and the family had moved to a small cottage on Old Abbey Street. Rosanna and Patrick Gray had three sons together (1904–10).
As a teenager Rosie Hackett worked as a packer in a paper store, and in 1911 she moved to a job as a messenger for Jacob's biscuit factory on Bishop Street. From an early age she was involved in the trade-union movement, and was one of the first members of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union (ITGWU), founded by Jim Larkin (qv) in January 1909. In 1911 the men of Jacob's bakehouse went on strike, and Rosie was one of the main organisers of the women's sympathy strike on 22 August. Jacob's was the principal employer of women in Dublin at the time, and over 3,000 female employees withdrew their labour in pursuit of a pay claim. This was conceded by Jacob's, and on 5 September 1911 Rosie co-founded the Irish Women Workers' Union (IWWU) with Delia Larkin (qv), Jim Larkin's sister. The IWWU was located on Great Brunswick Street (now Pearse Street), and Delia Larkin was its first general secretary. Among those who spoke at this first meeting were Jim Larkin, James Nolan, Hannah Sheehy-Skeffington (qv), and Constance Markievicz (qv). From its outset the IWWU was thus linked to its counterparts in the ITGWU, the Dublin Trades Council, and the suffragette movement.
Over the next two years Rosie Hackett was a leading member of the IWWU, which played an integral role in the fight for the rights of women workers. On Mayday 1913 she, along with other representatives from the IWWU, marched in Dublin for the first time. Rosie was also among the crowd that gathered on Sackville Street (now O'Connell Street) to hear Jim Larkin speak on 'bloody Sunday' (30 August 1913), during which the crowd was charged by the Dublin Metropolitan Police, and two people were killed and over 300 were injured.
On 1 September 1913 two female workers at the Jacob's factory were dismissed because they refused to remove their union badges. Later that same day, Rosie Hackett was among the 300 other women who were fired from the factory, after they too refused to remove their union badges. Dublin tram workers had already gone on strike in August, leading to a series of strikes and lockouts which lasted until January 1914. During the height of the action, some 25,000 workers were locked out by their employers. Poverty and hunger were widespread in the city, and Rosie was one of the many women who helped run the Liberty Hall soup kitchen. She also played an essential part in organising a relief fund for the strikers and their families. After she lost her job in Jacob's factory, Rosie took up a position as a clerk in the IWWU shop, based in Liberty Hall. Here she came into contact with activists such as Helena Molony (qv) and Madeleine ffrench-Mullen (qv), both of whom also worked in the soup kitchen at Liberty Hall. A workroom was established in Liberty Hall, and along with many other women who had lost their jobs because of the lockout, Rosie made articles to sell in the shop. She also trained as a printer with the Liberty Hall printing press, and through her work she became a close confidante of James Connolly (qv). During the lockout Connolly founded the Irish Citizen Army (ICA), a workers' militia trained to defend workers against police attacks. It was also an essential morale-boosting device. Women made up a substantial proportion of the ICA, and Rosie Hackett was an active member from its outset. When the strike finished in 1914, she continued to run the co-op shop and printing press at Liberty Hall. She also organised dances and events to entertain members of the ICA, the ITGWU and the IWWU.
In 1916, two weeks before the outbreak of the Easter rising, the shop at Liberty Hall was raided by the police. Rosie Hackett was working in the shop that day and tried to refuse entry to the police; she then went to the printing press to inform the men that Connolly must be found. The police had raided the shop looking for seditious papers such as the Spark and the Nation. Connolly arrived to find the police with the papers in their hands; he simply said, 'Drop them, or I'll drop you,' as Rosie Hackett later testified. Helena Molony also was also there with her rifle at the ready, in case Connolly was attacked. The police left, but returned later that afternoon with a warrant. However, they found none of the inflammatory papers as Rosie Hackett had hidden them all. As a result of the raid there was a general mobilisation of the ICA. The preparation in which Rosie Hackett was taking part, such as first-aid training given by Dr Kathleen Lynn (qv) and night-time route marches, intensified. During this time leaders of the Irish Volunteers, such as Patrick Pearse (qv), often called on Connolly in Liberty Hall. Rosie Hackett would show them the work being done at the printing press and direct them to Connolly's office. On Easter Sunday 1916 she went on a final route march with other members of the ICA which culminated with a rousing speech by Connolly. That night Rosie was sent several times with messages to and from Connolly about the printing in Liberty Hall of the Easter proclamation.
At 8 o'clock on Easter Monday morning (24 April), Rosie Hackett was sent for by Dr Lynn to go to her surgery in Liberty Hall. She was given a white coat and dispatched as a nurse to the ICA garrison stationed at St Stephen's Green under Michael Mallin (qv) and Constance Markievcz. They came under heavy fire from Tuesday morning, and moved to occupy the Royal College of Surgeons, where Rosie continued her first-aid work. After the surrender of her garrison she was arrested and marched through a hostile crowd to Dublin Castle. At the castle, the women were separated from the men, and first brought to Richmond barracks. Later that evening they were moved again to Kilmainham jail. Rosie Hackett spent ten days in Kilmainham after which she was freed.
After her release, Rosie Hackett, along with Helen Chenevix (qv) and Louie Bennett (qv), reorganised the IWWU. She also re-opened the soup kitchen in Liberty Hall with Helena Molony, which acted as a cover to allow them to continue their seditious activities. On the first anniversary of Connolly's death, on behalf of the ITGWU, Rosie Hackett and Helena Molony hung a large banner from Liberty Hall that read, 'James Connolly, Murdered May 12, 1916'. The banner was quickly taken down by the DMP. Rosie Hackett along with Helena Molony, Jinny Shanahan and Brigit Davis printed another script, climbed to the top of Liberty Hall and hung it from the roof. They barricaded the windows and blocked the door with coal. Over 400 policemen were mobilised to remove them, but they remained on the roof with the banner until 6 o'clock that evening.
Rosie Hackett continued her work with the IWWU for the next forty years. At its peak the union organised over 70,000 women. She also ran the ITGWU shop on Eden Quay until its closure in 1957. In 1970 she received a gold medal for recognition of her sixty years of work for the Irish trade-union movement. She never married and lived with her brother Tommy in Fairview until her death there on 4 July 1976. She was buried in Glasnevin cemetery, with full military honours. In September 2013 it was announced that the new light-rail Luas bridge in Dublin, linking Marlborough Street with Hawkins Street, would be named after Rosie Hackett. It is the only bridge across the Liffey to have been named for a woman.