ON THIS DAY: 21 NOVEMBER 1887: Birth of Joseph Mary Plunkett

Joseph Mary Plunkett, Seosamh Máire Pluincéid, was an Irish nationalist, poet, journalist, revolutionary and a leader of the 1916 Easter Rising.

Throughout his life, Joseph Plunkett took an active interest in Irish heritage and the Irish language; joined the Gaelic League and began studying with Thomas MacDonagh, with whom he formed a lifelong friendship. The two were both poets with an interest in theatre, and both were early members of the Irish Volunteers, joining their provisional committee. Plunkett’s interest in Irish nationalism spread throughout his family, to his younger brothers George and John, as well as his father, who allowed his property in Kimmage, to be used as a training camp for young men who wished to escape conscription in Britain during the First World War.

Plunkett was one of the original members of the IRB Military Committee that was responsible for planning the Easter Rising, and it was largely his plan that was followed. Shortly before the rising, Plunkett was hospitalised and had an operation on his neck glands days before Easter and had to struggle out of bed to take part in the Rising. Still bandaged, he took his place in the GPO with the other leaders.

Following the surrender Plunkett was held in Kilmainham Gaol, and faced a court martial. Seven hours before his execution by firing squad at the age of 28, he was married in the prison chapel to his sweetheart Grace Gifford, a Protestant convert to Catholicism, whose sister, Muriel, had years before also converted and married his best friend Thomas MacDonagh, who was also executed for his role in the Easter Rising. Grace never married again.




Listen to Roddy Connolly, James Connolly’s son tell of his first encounter with Joseph Mary Plunkett at the GPO


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