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 John MacBride

John MacBride

Birth
Westport, County Mayo, Ireland
Death 5 May 1916 (aged 47)
Kilmainham, County Dublin, Ireland
Burial Dublin, County Dublin, Ireland
Memorial ID 4271 · View Source
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Irish Patriot. He is most remembered as an Irish Republican and military leader, which was executed by the British for his participation in the Easter Rising in Dublin, Ireland in 1916. Educated at the Christian Brothers' School in Westport and a St. Malachy's College in Belfast, he was the son of Patrick MacBride, a former sea captain and his wife Honoria Gill, a successful shopkeeper. He studied medicine but did not finish a degree instead became an employee at a chemist firm. At the age of fifteen, he became very political taking the secret oath of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and an associate of Michael Cusack in the Gaelic Athletic Association. He joined the Celtic Literary Society becoming a life-long friend of Arthur Griffith, founder of the Sinn Féin. By 1893, he was considered a “dangerous nationalist” by the British. In 1896 he traveled to the United States to rally for financial support for IRB. On his return to Ireland, he emigrated to South Africa in hopes of finding gold. During the Second Anglo-Boar War, he became an organizing member of an all-volunteer unit of guerrilla militia called Irish Transvaal Brigade, which was later called MacBride's Brigade with him achieving the rank of major. This group of no more than 500 Irishmen and Irish-Americans fought alongside the Boers against the British forces in South Africa from 1899 to 1902. He kept papers documenting his heroic adventures in which Anthony J. Jordan's book, “Boer War to Easter Rising: The Writings of John MacBride” goes into the details. MacBride became a citizen of Transvaal. In 1903 looking for a safe haven away from Ireland, he migrated to Paris where he married actress Maud Gonne; in 1904 their son was born; by January 1905, the couple had separated; a nasty court case followed, and then he left for troubled Ireland never to see his son again. During the court case, he had been accused of many wrong-doings but as far as the French court was concerned the only accusation upheld against MacBride was that of drunkenness. No divorce was granted. Being well-known to the British after his actions in the Second Anglo-Boar War, he was considered as a citizen of the United Kingdom who had committed treason. With a price on his head in Ireland, he was impoverished, having trouble with alcohol abuse, yet no longer active with the Irish cause. On Easter of 1916, he stumbled upon by accident an uprising against the British and fought as adjutant to Thomas MacDonagh and other colleagues at the Jacob’s biscuit factory. He was arrested, and in a Court Martial, he was found guilty under the Defense of Realm Act and sentenced to be shot by British troops in Kimainham Gaol, in Dublin on May 5, 1916. He did not wish to be blindfolded, saying "Fire away! I have looked down the muzzles of too many guns in the South African war to fear death and now please carry out your sentence." By now, the name MacBride was famous in every Irish household. Maud Gonne's former romantic companion, W. B. Yeats penned the poem , “Easter 1916,” describing his rival MacBride as a ‘drunken, vainglorious lout” . Other literary pieces have been written about Easter of 1916 including Donal Fallon's “16 Lives-John MacBride”; Dermot McEvoy's "The 13th Apostle: A Novel of a Dublin Family, Michael Collins, and the Irish Uprising and Irish Miscellany" and another by Jordan in 2002, “The Yeats Gonne MacBride Triangle”. Several plays, a TV documentary and movies have preserved the historical events of his life. A plaque marks the building on the Westport Quays where he was born, which is presently the Helm Bar and Restaurant.

Bio by: Linda Davis


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 3 Jan 1999
  • Find A Grave Memorial 4271
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for John MacBride (7 May 1868–5 May 1916), Find A Grave Memorial no. 4271, citing Arbour Hill Cemetery, Dublin, County Dublin, Ireland ; Maintained by Find A Grave .