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Friday, 11 March 2016


11‭ ‬March‭ ‬1857:‭ ‬Thomas J.‭ ‬Clark,‭ ‬founding‭ ‬member of the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic,‭ ‬was born‭ ‬ on this day.‭ ‬He was born on the Isle of Wight where his soldier father was stationed at the time.‭ ‬He joined the IRB in‭ ‬1883‭ ‬but was soon arrested in London for bombing activities and sentenced to Life imprisonment.‭ ‬The conditions he was held in were very harsh and his time in captivity was recalled in Clarke’s‭ ‬Glimpses of an Irish Felon’s Prison Life‭ ‬(1922‭)‬.‭ ‬In‭ ‬1896,‭ ‬he was one of five remaining Fenian prisoners in British jails and a series of public meetings in Ireland called for their release.‭ ‬He then spent some years in America after marrying Kathleen Daly and after a happy period there they returned home to Ireland in‭ ‬1907.‭

Clarke opened a tobacconists shop adjacent to O’Connell Street and from here he helped to organize resistence to British rule.‭ ‬With the Home Rule Crises of‭ ‬1912-14‭ ‬volunteers were organised North and South on both sides and armaments flowed into the Country.‭ ‬Through all of this Clarke kept a low profile but behind the scences he was active in organising for a Rising.‭ ‬Clarke was also the main link with John Devoy,‭ ‬Joseph McGarrity and other supporters in the United States.‭ ‬As‭ ‬a member of the IRB Supreme Council,‭ ‬in late‭ ‬1915‭ ‬Clarke was co-opted onto its Military Council.‭ ‬The real work now began with a view to using the cover of the Great War to strike a blow at Britain while her interest lay elsewhere.

At Easter‭ ‬1916‭ ‬when the Proclamation of the Irish Republic was drawn up Clarke was given the honour of being the first signatory to place his name on the document.‭ ‬This was due to the recognition by his partners in the enterprise for the years of suffering and dedication he had given to the Cause.‭ ‬Though he opposed the ending of the Rising he accepted the result and was prepared for what was to come.‭ ‬He was tried before a British Military Court and found guilty.‭ ‬He was executed by firing squad in Kilmainham Jail on‭ ‬3‭ ‬May‭ ‬1916.

He was buried at the Arbour Hill Cemetery‭ (‬at the rear of the National Museum of Ireland,‭ ‬Collins Barracks‭) ‬in Dublin and the plot in which‭ ‬14‭ ‬of the executed Leaders were buried is now a National Monument.