Thomas Clarke

Thomas Clarke

Milford-on-Sea, New Forest District, Hampshire, England
Death 3 May 1916 (aged 59)
Kilmainham, County Dublin, Ireland
Burial Dublin, County Dublin, Ireland
Memorial ID 4267 · View Source
Suggest Edits

Irish Patriot. He will be remember for his participation in the Easter Rising of 1916 in Dublin, Ireland, which was a conflict between the British and the Irish Revolutionaries at Jacob's Biscuit Company. He was arrested at the scene and in a court martial found guilty of treason then sentenced to death in front of a British firing squad. Facing the firing squad at Kilmainham Jail, he was one of the first three to be executed with his colleagues Thomas MacDonagh and Patrick Pearse. Of the fifteen that were executed, all seven signers of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic were put to death; he was the first one to sign the document. He was the oldest of four children of an Irish Protestant father, James, who was a British Army bombardier, and Mary Palmer, an Irish Catholic servant girl. With his father's army tours, the family left the English station for one in South Africa before settling in County Tyrone, Ireland in 1865. As a young man, he had an all-consuming passion was politics, and, like his 16th-century hero Wolfe Tone, he gravitated towards Irish independence from the British. At this point, he befriended Jeremiah O'Donvan Rossa, who led the group in the Dynamite Campaign in bombing dozens of British facilities such the House of Commons and the Tower of London After the bombing, he was betrayed by a fellow Irishman, which led him to be slow to trust others and kept a low profile fearing another arrest. For his role in the Dynamite Campaign , he served from 1883 to 1898 at hard labor in prison under the hands of brutal jailers and physicians who forgotten their Hippocratic Oath. Gerard MacAtesney's biography “Tom Clarke-Life Liberty, Revolution,” which was based on letters between Clarke and Kathleen “Katie” Daly, tells the tales of his imprisonment. Katie was the niece of John Daly, a prison mate of Clarke's who was active in the Irish Republican Brotherhood and took part in the bombings. Unable to find employment in Ireland after his release from prison, he left for America. Like Pearse, he had no time for the Catholic Church, its strong position in Ireland yet not supporting Irish freedom from the British-Protestant rule. In 1901 he and Katie Daly were married in New York City, where he used his experience with dynamite to land jobs with construction teams. His old friend O'Donvan Rossa had also escaped to America. Clarke returned to Dublin to open a newspaper and tobacco shop in 1909. When Rossa died in America in 1915 while in exile, Clarke helped to rally the Irish to bring his body home for a hero's burial. A seasoned member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, he had become the father figure to the younger generation of revolutionaries. The position of First President of the Irish Republic was offered first to Clarke, but he, wanting to maintain his behind the scenes, refused with the position going to Patrick Pearse, a younger well-educated orator who read the Proclamation document aloud in public. By 1916, he was a quiet, bespectacled, man who was showing the wear of being imprisoned for many years. Written from Kilmainham Jail, his last letter was short: “I and my fellow signatories believe we have struck the first successful blow for Irish freedom. The next blow, which we have no doubt Ireland will strike, will win through. In this belief, we die happy.” Those executed were thrown in a mass grave without coffins or a funeral service. It was after the death of these men that the Irish citizens realized what they had done for their freedom. By 1922, many of the political battles, for which they died fighting in 1916, had been resolved. A commemorative plague for Clarke is located at the junction of Parnell Street and O’Connell Street in Dublin; a postage stamp was issued with his image; and the Clarke Railway Station at Dunbalk was named in his honor.

Bio by: Linda Davis

Family Members




How famous was Thomas Clarke?

Current rating:

59 votes

to cast your vote.

  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 2 Jan 1999
  • Find a Grave Memorial 4267
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Thomas Clarke (11 Mar 1857–3 May 1916), Find a Grave Memorial no. 4267, citing Arbour Hill Cemetery, Dublin, County Dublin, Ireland ; Maintained by Find A Grave .