Thomas MacDonagh was one of seven signatories of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic
Tomás Mac Donnchadha, of winning smile and pleasant manner, was born on Lá Bríd 1878, in Cloughjordan, County Tipperary.
He was a poet, a literary scholar, and friend of William Butler Yeats, as well as a teacher of English and of French, first at Saint Kieran’s College in Kilkenny (where he joined Conradh na Gaedhilge – The Gaelic League, and where the railroad station is now named for him), then at Saint Coleman’s College, Fermoy in Cork, and, finally at Scoil Eanna, where he was both a lecturer and assistant headmaster, under Pádraic Pearse; MacDonagh was also a lecturer in English at the National University, where he developed a friendship with Eoin MacNeill. In 1910 he became the Irish tutor, and close friend, of Joseph Mary Plunkett – the two men later married sisters, Muriel and Grace Gifford.
In 1913 he was a co-founder, and named to the Central Committee, of the newly formed Irish Volunteers, as well as given command of the 2nd Dublin Battalion; he later became commandant of the entire Dublin Brigade. He organized the Volunteers, who participated in the Howth Gun-running in July 1914. He was on the General Council of the Irish Volunteers and Director of Training. 1915 saw Tomás Mac Donnchadha join the Irish Republican Brothrhood (IRB), and, at the request of Tom Clarke, plan the Lá Lughnasa funeral of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, where Pearse’s oration would prove a major milestone on the road to the Rising – Easter Week 1916.
Mac Donnchadha had been co-opted onto the secret Military Council that planned the Rising; he set up a strong position at Jacob’s Biscuit Factory in Dublin, on Easter Monday. His immediate superior was James Connolly, Commandant General of the entire Dublin Division. He was assisted by Wexfordman Michael O’Hanrahan, and by Major John MacBride, Mayo Christian Brothers Boy, who had fought (Irish Transvaal Brigade) against the English in the Second Boer War. Mac Donnchadha was personally responsible for the initiative, which brought the Hibernian Rifles of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) Irish American Alliance into participation in the Rising.
Although his position was strong, and his men willing to continue the fight, Thomas MacDonagh surrendered on Sunday, 30th April, once the surrender order from Irish Republic President Pearse and General Connolly had been authenticated. After conviction by English court martial, along with Tom Clarke and Pádraic Pearse, Thomas MacDonagh was executed, on 3rd May 1916, by firing squad in the stone-breakers yard of Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin.
A pilgrimage to the GPO, to Arbour Hill, and especially to Kilmainham Gaol, can have the same psychological effect as the renewing of one’s baptismal vows.†
Ar dheis láimh Dé go raibh
Liam Ó Murchadha - Recipient of the Thomas MacDonagh Centenary Award
Lament for Thomas MacDonagh
By Francis Ledwidge
He shall not hear the bittern cry
In the wild sky, where he is lain,
Nor voices of the sweeter birds,
Above the wailing of the rain.
Nor shall he know when loud March blows
Thro' slanting snows her fanfare shrill,
Blowing to flame the golden cup
Of many an upset daffodil.
But when the Dark Cow leaves the moor
And pastures poor with greedy weeds
Perhaps he'll hear her low at morn
Lifting her horn in pleasant meads
Cló Saoirse publish American Edition of History of Cumann na mBan
To mark the centenary of the republican women’s organisation Cumann na mBan, the Dublin-based publisher Cló Saoirse/Irish Freedom Press published a history of the organisation in April 2014. Due to the success in Ireland and a growing demand from readers living in North America, Cló Saoirse will publish a separate American Edition of the history of Cumann na mBan. The book ‘Cumann na mBan: 100 Years Defending the Republic’ (ISBN 978-0954579128) is written by Cumann na mBan Veteran and Republican Sinn Féin General Secretary Líta Ní Cathmhaoil and Dieter Reinisch, Researcher at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. The American Edition includes an additional Preface on the links between Irish republican women and America, as well as reports from the book-launch organised in April 2014 in Dublin.
On April 5, 1914 over 100 women attended a meeting in Wynn’s Hotel, Dublin, presided over by Agnes O’Farrelly, of what was to be Cumann na mBan. One hundred years later, Cumann na mBan has influenced the course of Irish History like no other women’s organisation has done it in the 20th Century. In these one hundred years, Cumann na mBan was the only Republican organisation which stood firmly to the All-Ireland Republic proclaimed in 1916. ‘Cumann na mBan: 100 Years Defending the Republic’ is the first full account of the one hundred years history of this remarkable women’s organisation.
The book includes 136 pages with previously unpublished documents and photos of Cumann na mBan. It is sold for $ 17,-. Bookshops may ask Cló Saoirse/Irish Freedom Press for cost price. Special rates are available for public libraries and universities.
The book will be launched by the National Irish Freedom Committee in the USA on November 22. Líta Ní Chathmhaoil, Cumann na mBan activist from Dublin and co-author of the book, will launch the book at the Testimonial Awards Dinner at Rory Dolan’s, 890 McLean Ave., Yonkers, NY 10704.
For orders and any further information contact Josephine Hayden of Cló Saoirse/Irish Freedom Press: +353 (0)1 872 97 47 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Líta Ní Chathmhaoil & Dieter Reinisch
Cumann na mBan: 100 Years Defending the Republic (American Edition)
Cló Saoirse/Irish Freedom Press
Dublin/New York, November 2014