Remembering Joeseph Plunkett – Irish Revolutionaries

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Remembering Joeseph Plunkett

Remembering Joeseph Plunkett

The Irish Revolutionary was executed in Kilmainham Gaol on May 4th 1916.

Plunkett was born at 26 Upper Fitzwilliam Street in one of Dublin's most affluent districts. Both his parents came from wealthy backgrounds, his father, George Noble Plunkett, had been made a papal count.

Plunkett contracted tuberculosis (TB) at a young age and spent part of his youth in the warmer climates of the Mediterranean and North Africa. He spent time in Algiers where he studied Arabic literature and language and composed poetry in Arabic.

Plunkett was educated at the Catholic University School (CUS) and by the Jesuits at Belvedere College in Dublin and later at Stonyhurst College, in Lancashire, England where he acquired some military knowledge from the Officers' Training Corps.

But Joseph Plunkett took an active interest in Irish heritage and the Irish language, and also studied Esperanto. Plunkett was one of the founders of the Irish Esperanto League. He joined the Gaelic League and began studying with Thomas MacDonagh, with whom he formed a lifelong friendship.

In 1915 Joseph Plunkett joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood and soon after was sent to Germany to meet with Roger Casement, who was negotiating with the German government on behalf of Ireland. Casement's role as emissary was self-appointed, and, as he was not a member of the IRB, that organisation's leadership wished to have one of their own contact Germany to negotiate German aid for an uprising the following year.

Plunkett was one of the original members of the IRB Military Committee that were responsible for planning the Easter Rising, and it was largely his plan that was followed. Shortly before the rising was to begin, Plunkett was hospitalised following a turn for the worse in his health.

Still bandaged from an operation, he took his place in the General Post Office with several other of the Rising's leaders such as Patrick Pearse and Tom Clarke, though his health prevented him from being very active. His energetic aide de camp was Michael Collins.

Following the surrender, Plunkett was held in Kilmainham Gaol and faced a court-martial. He married Grace Gifford — a sister-in-law of Thomas MacDonagh — at Kilmainham the night before he was executed.

Just before he faced the firing squad, on May 4th, 1916, he said: “I am very happy I am dying for the glory of God and the honour of Ireland.”

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