On Easter Monday, 24 April 1916, seven Irishmen proclaimed the establishment of the Irish Republic. They were Éamonn Ceannt, Thomas Clarke, James Connolly, Seán MacDiarmada, Thomas MacDonagh, Patrick Pearse, and Joseph Plunkett.
Proclamation of the Irish Republic, Easter 1916
The seven members of the IRB’s Military Council decided they would constitute the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic. They finalised the content of the “Proclamation of the Irish Republic” shortly before Easter 1916.
The Proclamation was printed by Christopher Brady in Liberty Hall. It was printed in two parts, the top part first and then the type was reset for the bottom half. The compositors Michael Molloy and Liam O’Brien did not have enough type in the same font, so in some places the letter e has been printed using a different font – notably in the third paragraph. In the line “to the people of Ireland” sealing wax was used to convert a capital F into an E. Seán T. O'Kelly, who worked at the National Library of Ireland, 1898-1902, and who went on to be President of Ireland, 1945-59, was responsible for distributing and posting copies of the Proclamation all over Dublin.
Prevention of Epidemic (April 1916)National Library of Ireland
One stark sentence illustrates the human cost of the Easter Rising. Fearing an outbreak of disease, this handbill was issued by the Administration in Dublin Castle. By Sunday 30 April, close to 2,000 people—mostly civilians—had been killed or injured, the GPO and other buildings were in ruins, and the insurgents had surrendered.
This handbill was fomerly owned by the legendary J.J. Simington who was general manager of The Irish Times in 1916.
Martial Law declared in Dublin (25 April 1916)National Library of Ireland
Martial Law was declared in Dublin on Tuesday, 25 April 1916.
Éamonn Ceannt, 1881-1916
Éamonn Ceannt, signatory of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, was deeply interested in Irish language and music. He became a fluent Irish speaker and adopted the Irish form of his name. He was a member of the Gaelic League where he met Patrick Pearse. He was also politically active, joining Sinn Féin in 1907 and the Irish Republican Brotherhood in 1912. A member of the Irish Volunteers from their formation, he was involved in raising finance to purchase arms. Following the split in the Volunteers, Ceannt was elected to a key role in the Irish Volunteers, along with Pearse and Joseph Plunkett. This gave them virtual control of the organisation. In March 1915 Ceannt became commandant of the 4th Battalion of the Dublin Brigade and soon after joined the IRB Military Council. During the Rising Ceannt and his men occupied the South Dublin Union, a workhouse and hospital off James’ Street. They held part of the complex until the general surrender on Sunday. Ceannt was executed by firing squad in Kilmainham Jail on 8 May 1916. He was survived by his wife Áine and son Rónán.
Self-portrait by Éamonn Ceannt, entitled ‘Mé Féin’ [Myself] (1909) by Éamonn CeanntNational Library of Ireland
From a drawing book containing various sketches and watercolours by Éamonn Ceannt.
Marching song to the air of 'Deutschland über alles', words by Éamonn Ceannt (Circa 1914) by Éamonn CeanntNational Library of Ireland
Song sheet of ‘Ireland Over All’. Words were written by Éamonn Ceannt, and it was to be sung to the air of 'Deutschland über alles'.
Copies could be obtained by sending 3 pennies in stamps to Éamonn Ceannt at his home in Dolphin's Barn, Dublin. Profits went to the 4th Battalion Irish Volunteers in Kimmage, Dublin.
Áine Ceannt, née O'Brennan, with her son Rónán (Circa 1917) by LafayetteNational Library of Ireland
Áine Ceannt, 1880-1954, was a Cumann na mBan activist and involved in preparations for the Rising as a courier. As chairperson of the Irish White Cross, she worked on behalf of dependents of Volunteers killed or disabled during the Irish revolution.
Thomas J. Clarke, 1858-1916
Thomas (Tom) Clarke was born on the Isle of Wight, England, where his father was a British Army soldier. Later, the family moved to Dungannon, Co. Tyrone.
Clarke emigrated to the United States in 1882 and joined the revolutionary organisation Clan Na Gael. In 1883 he was sent to England on a dynamiting mission but was arrested and sentenced to penal servitude for life. Clarke served fifteen years in jail and returned to the US in 1898.
He married Kathleen Daly and they had three sons. The family returned to Dublin in 1907, opening shops in Great Britain Street (Parnell Street) and Amiens Street. Clarke joined the Irish Volunteers and helped to revive the Irish Republic Brotherhood. He was the main link with Fenian and republican organisations in the United States and a member of the IRB Military Council.
Clarke was the first signatory of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic and was stationed in the General Post Office. He opposed the surrender, but was outvoted. Clarke was executed by firing squad at Kilmainham Jail on 3 May.
Draft of a lecture given by Tom Clarke in Dublin (25 April 1899) by Tom ClarkeNational Library of Ireland
Draft of a lecture given by Tom Clarke in Dublin on Tuesday, 25 April 1899.
The Freeman's Journal described a "large attendance" at the European Hall in Bolton Street, Dublin, where Tom Clarke was "enthusiastically applauded" as he described what life was like for Irish political prisoners in English prisons.
Letter to Madge Daly about Tom Clarke's personal effects (6 March 1917) by Hugh O'Brien MoranNational Library of Ireland
Letter from solicitor Hugh O'Brien Moran, to Tom Clarke's sister-in-law, Madge Daly. The letter, dated 6 March 1917, lists Clarke's personal effects handed over by the authorities in Dublin after his execution. These few belongings were to be returned to his wife, Kathleen.
Kathleen Clarke, née Daly, in mourning clothes, with her sons (1916) by T.F. GeogheganNational Library of Ireland
Kathleen Clarke, 1878-1972, with her sons John, Tom, and Emmet. Kathleen is wearing mourning clothes, and this photograph, taken in 1916, was widely used in fundraising for the families of combatants killed in the Rising, a cause Kathleen Clarke actively supported. She was very politically engaged during her life, and was the first woman Lord Mayor of Dublin.
James Connolly, 1868-1916
James Connolly was born to extremely poor Irish Catholic emigrants in Edinburgh. An active socialist, he founded the Irish Socialist Republican Party in Dublin in 1896 and published The Workers’ Republic newspaper.
Connolly went to the US in 1903 and returned to Ireland to organise the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union in 1910 Connolly became head of the ITGWU in 1914 and campaigned against recruitment when World War I broke out in August that year.
Connolly, who opposed Home Rule as middle class and capitalist, was commandant of the Irish Citizen Army. In January 1916 he agreed that the IRB, the ICA and the Irish Volunteers should organize a joint insurrection.
As vice-president of the Provisional Government and commandant general of the Dublin division of the army of the Irish Republic, Connolly was in the GPO. He directed military operations even after being seriously wounded in the shoulder and ankle on Thursday 27th.
Connolly was executed by ﬁring squad in Kilmainham Jail on 12 May. He was survived by his wife Lillie and their children.
We Serve Neither King nor Kaiser, but Ireland! (1914) by Keogh BrothersNational Library of Ireland
Reflecting James Connolly's opposition to Irishmen fighting in WWI, members of the Irish Citizen Army line up under a banner proclaiming "We Serve Neither King nor Kaiser, but Ireland!", Liberty Hall, Dublin, circa 1914.
Order from Connolly about barricades and firing on Henry Street, Dublin (25 April 1916) by James ConnollyNational Library of Ireland
Order issued by James Connolly, Commandant-General, Dublin Division, Army of the Irish Republic, to Frank Henderson, who was "Officer in Charge, Henry Street" informing him to erect barricades in Henry Street and occupy the first and top floors of houses in the street, 25 April 1916.
"In all cases wait for word from a responsible officer before commencing to shoot."
Letter from Lillie Connolly, née Reynolds, appealing for financial help (27 August 1922) by Lillie ConnollyNational Library of Ireland
Lillie Connolly, widow of James Connolly, wrote to Fenian John Devoy on 27 August 1922, to see "if any fund exists in America upon which I would have a claim" as the money she receives from the National Aid Association is not enough to support her and her two young daughters. Lillie describes their flat at 26 Parliament Street as "not fit for human habitation".
Seán MacDiarmada, 1883-1916
MacDiarmada was born in Corranmore, Co. Leitrim. He emigrated to Scotland before settling in Belfast. Here he joined the Gaelic League, the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and was involved in the Dungannon Clubs and Sinn Féin. Moving to Dublin in 1907 he was instrumental in revitalising the IRB, along with Tom Clarke and others, and managed its newspaper Irish Freedom. In 1911 he contracted polio, which left him lame and using a walking stick. MacDiarmada was active in cultural organisations such as the Gaelic Athletic Association and the Gaelic League, recruiting members to the IRB. In 1915 he was co-opted with Clarke to the IRB Military Council. MacDiarmada believed that the only means of achieving a republic was revolution and he had a leading role in planning the 1916 Rising. He spent the Rising in the General Post Office and was acknowledged by the garrison as one of the commanders, despite holding no military rank. He was executed by firing squad in Kilmainham Jail on 12 May.
Letter from Seán MacDiarmada to Una McCrudden about Sinn Féin (23 December 1910) by Seán MacDiarmadaNational Library of Ireland
Letter from Seán MacDiarmada to Una McCrudden about Sinn Féin, 23 December 1910.
Una McCrudden was a member of the Belfast branch of Cumann na mBan, which was an auxiliary of the Irish Volunteers.
MacDiarmada writes of "a few Dublin people who insist on running Sinn Féin as a little semi-respectable semi-political and three quarter Dublin Corporation Debating Society, and ignoring the Country and the broad national question which it is supposed to be fighting..."
Fellow signatory Tom Clarke behind Fenian John Daly, and Seán MacDiarmada (Circa 1915)National Library of Ireland
Fellow signatory of the Proclamation, Tom Clarke, standing behind Fenian John Daly, and Seán MacDiarmada.
MacDiarmada was strongly influenced by Tom Clarke's Fenian views from when they first met in Dublin in 1907.
Thomas MacDonagh, 1878-1916
McDonagh was born in Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary. He was educated at Rockwell College where he trained for the priesthood. On leaving he worked as teacher and joined the Gaelic League, which first introduced him to nationalist ideas. He joined St. Enda’s Boys school when Patrick Pearse set it up in 1908. In 1911 he completed his masters at University College Dublin and was appointed lecturer in English.
MacDonagh joined the Irish Volunteers in November 1913. He was on the provisional committee and involved in the Howth gun-running. A member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, he was co-opted on the Military Council in April 1916, and it is believed that he had a limited part in planning the Rising.
As commandant of the 2nd Battalion of the Dublin Brigade MacDonagh was in charge at Jacob’s biscuit factory in Bishop Street during the Rising. The Battalion complied reluctantly with Pearse’s surrender order. He was executed by firing squad in Kilmainham Jail on 3 May. He was survived by his wife Muriel (née Gifford) and his children Donagh and Barbara.
Thomas MacDonagh's membership card for The Irish Volunteers (3 December 1913)National Library of Ireland
Thomas MacDonagh's membership card for The Irish Volunteers, 3 December 1913.
Everything entered on MacDonagh's membership card was written in Irish, hence his address at 29 Oakley Road in Ranelagh, Dublin is given as Bothar Oclaí 29.
Studio portrait of the MacDonagh family (1913)National Library of Ireland
Studio portrait of the MacDonagh family in 1913.
Donagh MacDonagh, born 22 November 1912, lying on a sofa with Muriel Gifford MacDonagh and Thomas MacDonagh seated on either side of him.
Thomas MacDonagh's farewell letter to his wife Muriel Gifford MacDonagh (2 May 1916) by Thomas MacDonaghNational Library of Ireland
Final page of the letter that Thomas MacDonagh wrote to his wife, Muriel, from his cell in Kilmainham Gaol at midnight on Tuesday, 2 May 1916.
He was executed the next day.
Muriel MacDonagh, née Gifford (26 July 1916)National Library of Ireland
Muriel MacDonagh, née Gifford, pictured on 26 July 1916.
Muriel Gifford MacDonagh, 1884-1917, was involved in women's suffrage and Irish nationalism, but her political activities were limited by ill health from 1912. Muriel died in a drowning accident in July 1917, leaving her children Donagh and Barbara orphans.
Patrick Pearse, 1879-1916
Pearse was born in Great Brunswick Street (now Pearse Street) Dublin. He became intensely interested in Irish language and literature, joining the Gaelic League at seventeen.
From 1903 to 1908 he was editor of An Claidheamh Soluis newspaper, and wrote poetry and stories in Irish and English. He set up a bilingual boys’ school, Saint Enda’s (Sgoil Éanna) in 1908 and later Saint Ita’s, a school for senior girls and mixed preparatory.
Pearse had supported Home Rule but was frustrated by the failure to enact it. In November 1913, he was a founding member of the Irish Volunteers and he later became director of military operations. In 1914 he was sworn into the Irish Republican Brotherhood and co-opted to the Military Council in September 1915. He had a major role in planning the Rising.
Pearse was president of the Provisional Government and he read the Proclamation outside the GPO on Easter Monday. He issued the order for surrender after the GPO was evacuated. Pearse was executed by firing squad in Kilmainham Jail on 3 May.
Letter from Patrick Pearse to Joseph McGarrity about arms landed at Howth (12 August 1914) by Patrick PearseNational Library of Ireland
Letter from Patrick Pearse to Joseph McGarrity about arms landed at Howth.
Irish-born Joseph McGarrity lived in Philadelphia. He had given $1,000 to the Irish Volunteers and for the purchase of arms that were brought into Howth harbour in July 1914. In this letter, dated 12 August 1914, Pearse admits that the actual number of guns landed at Howth "was only 900", and also outlines the recent split in the Irish Volunteers for McGarrity.
Manuscript draft of 'The Mother', perhaps Patrick Pearse's most famous poem (1916) by Patrick PearseNational Library of Ireland
Manuscript draft of 'The Mother', perhaps Patrick Pearse's most famous poem, 1916.
Pearse wrote 'The Mother' early in 1916, at a time when he had come to terms with the probable fate of both himself and his brother Willie. In the event, Patrick Pearse was executed on Wednesday, 3 May 1916. Willie Pearse was executed the next day.
Draft of surrender document, signed by Patrick Pearse (29 April 1916) by Patrick PearseNational Library of Ireland
Draft of surrender document, signed by Patrick Pearse on 29 April 1916.
Headed "HQ Moore St", this is a signed draft by Patrick Pearse of an instrument to open surrender negotiations. It was written on a cardboard picture-mount, and was found in 16 Moore Street on Saturday, 29 April 1916.
Margaret Pearse (at right), mother of Patrick and Willie Pearse (1921) by W.D. HoganNational Library of Ireland
Margaret Pearse (at right), mother of Patrick and Willie Pearse, pictured in 1921.
Margaret Pearse, née Brady, 1857-1932, joined Sinn Féin after the Easter Rising. She was also involved in running Scoil Éanna. Mrs Pearse became a T.D. in 1921 and was a founder member of Fianna Fáil in 1926.
Also in the photograph are, from left, Kathleen Clarke, Countess Markievicz, and Mrs O'Callaghan. All four women were attending a Peace Meeting at the Mansion House in Dublin.
Joseph Mary Plunkett, 1887-1916
Plunkett was born in Dublin, the son of George Noble Plunkett, a papal count, and Josephine Cranny. He contracted tuberculosis as a young man.
Thomas MacDonagh tutored Plunkett and the two men became close friends. Together with Edward Martyn they established the Irish Theatre and the Irish Review journal. Plunkett became editor in 1913 and the journal became increasingly political, supporting Sinn Féín, workers’ rights, and the Irish Volunteers.
Plunkett was elected to the provisional committee of the Irish Volunteers in November 1913. He was also a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and was appointed to the IRB Military Council following a mission to Germany in 1915 to obtain arms.
Together with Connolly and Mac Diarmada, he was heavily involved in the final preparations for the Rising. Plunkett joined other members of the Provisional Government in the GPO despite being ill after a major operation.
Plunkett was engaged to be married to Grace Gifford, a sister-in-law of Thomas MacDonagh; they were permitted to marry in Kilmainham Jail on the night before his execution by firing squad on 4 May.
Passport issued to Joseph Plunkett by the German Imperial Government (17 April 1915)National Library of Ireland
Passport issued to Joseph Plunkett by the German Imperial Government on 17 April 1915.
In 1915 Joseph Plunkett travelled to Germany in an attempt to gain support in the form of troops and arms for the Rising. Scars from a recent operation are visible on his neck.
Page numbered 52 in Joseph Plunkett's field notebook, GPO, Easter Monday (24 April 1916) by Joseph PlunkettNational Library of Ireland
On the spot account of events in the G.P.O., from Joseph Plunkett's field notebook:
Easter Monday 1916
GPO occupied in the
Name of the Republic.
Shortly after noon (about
12.15 pm). Republic
About one hour later
a detachment of enemy
Lancers attempted to
rush O'Connell street.
They were opposed
at the Parnell Statue.
Love letter from Joseph Plunkett to his fiancée Grace Gifford (29 April 1916) by Joseph PlunkettNational Library of Ireland
This love letter from Joseph Plunkett to his fiancée Grace Gifford was dated the "6th Day of the Irish Republic. About noon. Somewhere in Moore St."
This page numbered 62, was almost certainly torn from Plunkett's field notebook from the G.P.O. The letter was found on the street by a waiter from the Granville Hotel on Sackville Street.
Grace Gifford, 1888–1955 (1906)National Library of Ireland
An accomplished caricaturist, Grace Gifford is pictured here, circa 1906, with the artist Sir William Orpen, who taught her at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art. She later attended the Slade School of Fine Art in London.
From 1908, Grace became increasingly involved in republican politics, joining Inghinidhe na hÉireann. She contributed to the pro-suffrage Irish Citizen, and produced artwork for the Irish Women's Franchise League.
Joseph Plunkett was Grace Gifford's fiancé. They were allowed to marry in Kilmainham Gaol on the night of Wednesday, 3 May 1916. Plunkett was executed by firing squad the following morning.
Noel Kissane, Sara Smyth, Carol Maddock, National Library of Ireland