Thomas James Clarke
Clarke’s father was a soldier in the British army. Clarke’s links with Clan na nGael in America, where he lived for many years, copper-fastened his importance to the revolutionary movement in Ireland. He served 15 years penal servitude in England for his role in a bombing campaign in London, 1883-1898. He was Treasurer of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and a member of the Supreme Council from 1915. The first signatory of the Proclamation of Independence through deference to his seniority in the nationalist movement, Clarke was with the group that occupied the GPO on Easter Monday.
Joseph Mary Plunkett
Plunkett received his early education in England, but returned to Ireland and graduated from UCD in 1909, after which he spent two years travelling due to ill health. Plunkett shared MacDonagh’s enthusiasm for literature and was an editor of the Irish Review. Along with MacDonagh and Edward Martyn, he helped to establish an Irish national theatre. He joined the Irish Volunteers in 1913 and the IRB in 1914. During the planning of the Rising, Plunkett was appointed Director of Military Operations, with overall responsibility for military strategy. Plunkett was based in the GPO during the Rising. He married Grace Gifford while in Kilmainham Gaol following the surrender.
Connolly first came to Ireland as a member of the British Army. The strong Irish presence in Edinburgh stimulated Connolly’s growing interest in Irish politics in the mid 1890s, leading to his emigration to Dublin in 1896 where he founded the Irish Socialist Republican Party. He spent much of the first decade of the 20th century in America, returning to Ireland to campaign for workers’ rights with James Larkin. A firm believer in the perils of sectarian division, Connolly campaigned tirelessly against religious bigotry. In 1913, Connolly was one of the founders of the Irish Citizen Army. During the Easter Rising he was appointed Commandant-General of the Dublin forces, leading the group that occupied the GPO. Unable to stand due to wounds received during the Rising, Connolly was executed while sitting down. He was the last of the leaders to be executed.
MacDonagh was the first teacher on the staff at St. Enda’s, the school he helped to found with Patrick Pearse. MacDonagh was well versed in literature, his enthusiasm and erudition earning him a position in the English Department at University College Dublin. His play ‘When the Dawn is Come’ was produced at the Abbey Theatre. He was appointed director of training for the Irish Volunteers in 1914, later joining the IRB. He was appointed to the IRB military committee in 1916. He was commander of the Second Battalion of Volunteers that occupied Jacob’s Biscuit Factory and surrounding houses during the Rising.
Pearse’s interest in Irish culture dated from his teenage years. In 1898 he became a member of the Executive Committee of Conradh na Gaeilge. He graduated from the Royal University in 1901 with a Degree in Arts and Law. Pearse’s literary output was constant, and he published extensively in both Irish and English, becoming the editor of An ClaidheamhSoluis, the newspaper of the Gaelic League. He was a keen believer in the value of education, and established two schools, Coláiste Éanna and Coláiste Íde, devoted to the education of Irish children through the Irish language. One of the founder members of the Irish Volunteers, and one of the authors of the Proclamation, Pearse was present in the GPO during the Rising, and was Commander in Chief of the Irish forces.
Prior to the Rising, Ceannt was an employee of the Dublin Corporation. He was a co-founder of the Irish Volunteers, partaking in the successful Howth gun-running operation of 1914. His involvement in republican activities was complemented by his interest in Irish culture, specifically Irish language and history. He was an accomplished uilleann piper. As commander of the Fourth Battalion of Irish Volunteers during the Rising, he took possession of the South Dublin Union (modern-day St. James’s Hospital).
MacDiarmada emigrated to Glasgow in 1900, and from there to Belfast in 1902. A member of Conradh na Gaeilge, he was acquainted with Belfast nationalist and activist, Bulmer Hobson. He joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood in 1906 while still in Belfast, later transferring to Dublin in 1908 where he assumed managerial responsibility for the IRB newspaper Irish Freedom in 1910. He was appointed to the provisional committee of Irish Volunteers in 1913, and was subsequently drafted onto the military committee of the IRB in 1915. During the Rising MacDiarmada served in the GPO.