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“Battle-Axe” Gleason From Fishmoyne, Borrisoleigh, Thurles.

Patrick Jerome Gleason, (April 25th 1844 – May 20th 1901) known then to American’s as “Paddy” to others as “Battle-Axe”, was born in Fishmoyne, (Fia Múin), Borrisoleigh, Thurles, Co. Tipperary; latter situated east of the river Gramoge. He was one of ten children born into a family, with a long tradition of fighting local oppression. His father had once boasted, before a magistrate in court, that he was the father of nine boys and he thanked God that each one was a rebel.

The smallest of his nine brothers, Patrick in his prime, stood 6ft-1in in height and weighed almost 18 stone (250 lbs). As a young adult, he excelled at boxing and was a champion local shot putter.

Patrick emigrated to New York at the age of 18 years, in 1862, and fought alongside four of his brothers, for the Union side, in the American Civil War.

War over, he moved to California where his knowledge gained from the manufacture and distillation of contraband Poitín (single malt whiskey) in the remote rural area of Borrisoleigh, (Note: Poitin remained illegal here in Ireland from 1661, until the 7th March 1997) and shrewd speculation in a portfolio of invested stocks, quickly made him a small fortune in California.

He now settled east in Long Island City, setting up a trolley car line, bringing visitors to Calvary Cemetery. Later he would lease personal property to the school district, and form the ‘Citizens Water Supply Co.’ attempting to sell water to Long Island City from his wells.

It was from here he would get involved in local politics and at the age of 42 become the elected mayor of Long Island City; in all three times; from 1887–89; 1890–92, and serving as its last mayor from 1896–97, before his office was eventually incorporated into the City of Greater New York in 1898.

Today, Gleason is remembered as one of the most colourful and charismatic figures in New York City’s history, but also one of the most reviled of characters. A totally domineering figure with a most violent temper he exercised control in the manner of a feudal lord, vastly expanding the size of local government by appointing close friends and supporters to key positions.

Often attacked by his enemies for his alleged corruption, buffoonery and brawling, he was also adored by the Long Island City’s Irish working class and especially school children, for whom he built the stately P.S1 High School, latter today a branch of the Museum of Modern Art.

Possibly best described as a ‘Democrat’, he was voted for simply as ‘Paddy’, and obeyed as ‘Paddy’, by the many people whom he controlled in a domineering, insistent and arrogant manner. Even those who were hostile to him, remembered him as ‘Paddy’ until his death.

PS1 once the largest high school on Long Island.

He had earned his nickname “Battle-Axe” when the Long Island Railroad (L.I.R.R.) brazenly fenced off its train line, allowing only ticketed passengers to cross its tracks and thus dividing the town from its waterfront, while blocking traffic to the ferry.

Gleason carefully orchestrated a raid against the L.I.R.R. in December 1888. He and some of his workmen converged on 2nd Street and Borden Avenue, informing railroad officials that they had just 30 minutes to remove their fencing, tracks and cars from 2nd Street. When the railroad failed to respond, Gleason, together with his Public Works Commissioner and 12 police officers, chopped down the fences and ripped up the tracks with crowds of delighted onlookers watching. This raid on the railroad earned Gleason the nickname “Battle Axe”, which he proudly adopted as a symbol of his office; wearing a diamond studded axe, as his favourite tie-pin.

Gleason’s volatile temper got him arrested twice. His relationship with the board of aldermen was often tempestuous leading to newspapers refusing to publish his photograph because of their intense dislike and disgust at his dominant actions.

When The New York Times printed an article detailing how Gleason had used his office, as City Mayor, to enrich himself, Gleason simply purchased almost every newspaper printed, greatly reducing the impact of their alleged claims.

In 1890, Gleason drunkenly approached an Associated Press reporter, one Mr George B. Crowley, in a hotel lobby and repeatedly insulted him, calling him a ‘loafer’ and a ‘thief’. Crowley ignored Gleason at first but when words were eventually exchanged, Gleason punched Crowley and kicked him repeatedly in the face. Bystanders took the bloodied Mr Crowley next door into the hotel’s restaurant. When Crowley later returned to the lobby to seek out his fallen spectacles; Gleason again grabbed him and threw him against a nearby cigar stand, breaking the stand’s front glass portal.

Because Gleason was Mayor, police declined to arrest him, without a warrant from a Judge. However, Gleason was eventually arrested and indicted for assault in the third degree, before being sentenced to five days imprisonment in the county jail, with a fine of $250.

The following year, Gleason dislocated the shoulder of yet another man at a meeting of the Board of Health. This time, Gleason was also arrested and charged with assault in the second degree.

Nevertheless under Gleason’s reign, in 1895, the “Queens Gazette” newspaper reported that in Long Island City, “one could walk from one end of Vernon Avenue to the other, the day after the recent (snow) storm and have a clear sidewalk to walk on.” The newspaper commented that this was probably not due to superior civic spirit by local residents, but because of new city ordinances requiring residents to remove snow from their own side-walks. [Maybe we should introduce a similar ordinance in Thurles.]

Gleason’s official office was eventually eliminated some three years later, in 1898, when Long Island City (today in the borough of Queens) joined the merger that created the five boroughs making up New York City.

Gleason’s death in 1901 (Note: he died bankrupt and discredited) was marked by a huge outpouring of grief and the largest funeral the area had then ever seen. Most notable were the hundreds of teary-eyed children who adored Gleason and lined the route to his burial place in Calvary Cemetery, which today can be found at Sec 9, Plot 585, Woodside, Queens County, New York, USA.

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Jimmy Fogarty Memorial Plaque Unveiled In Two-Mile-Borris Cemetery, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

On Friday last, July 9th, 2021 a stone memorial plaque was unveiled in Two-Mile-Borris cemetery, Thurles, Co. Tipperary to the late Mr James (Jimmy) Fogarty (July 20th 1938 – May 15th 2018).

Prior to the unveiling, a memorial Mass was held in the Church of St. James, Two-Mile-Borris, Thurles, latter celebrated by Fr. George Bourke and Fr. Tom Fogarty.

Following the memorial Mass, those in attendance moved to the local cemetery and Mr Gerry Bowe (MC) opened proceedings, stating “Welcome everyone to Two-Mile-Borris Cemetery for this special occasion. I welcome Fr. Tom, Fr. George and a special welcome to the Kelly family, Co. Meath and the Maher family, Co. Kildare and all our guests here today. I will shortly call on Mr Joe Moran to give the oration who will be followed by Mr John Hackett, who will unveil the plaque. Fr. George will then bless the plaque and we will wrap up proceedings with a short prayer and a list of acknowledgements”.

Giving the oration on this memorial occasion, Mr Joe Moran stated: “The Great Liberator Daniel O Connell on his deathbed said as follows: My soul to God, My body to Ireland, My heart to Rome. If I could re-phrase that quotation for Jimmy Fogarty (RIP) it might read as follows: My soul to God, My body to my parents resting place in Loughmore and My life’s work and spirit to the communities of Two Mile Borris, and the parish of Moycarkey-Borris.

Today, his local community in Two-Mile-Borris formally remember Jimmy by placing his memorial stone among these of his local community neighbours and friends. Our sincere thanks to the generosity and vision of our own Reverend Father George Bourke for this well-deserved memorial to Jimmy. We thank everyone that has helped to make today a special remembrance of Jimmy, his cousin Eamon Kelly, his friend John Hackett and everybody here present.

It is my honour and privilege on its unveiling to briefly recall Jimmy’s unique lifetime of service in our community. I begin with Jimmy’s great passion for athletics. In his athletic youth Jimmy represented his club Coolcroo in the black and white singlets and Tipperary in the blue and gold singlets. He regularly competed in nine-mile cross country runs.
The efforts involved in winning races and medals didn’t stop a twenty-year-old Jimmy from taking on the job of secretary for the newly reformed Coolcroo Athletic Club in 1958.

Jimmy excelled as a sports administrator and made a meteoric rise in the athletics world. In 1964 he was elected Secretary of the Tipperary N.A.C.A.I. and only three years later he was Munster Secretary and only two years later in 1969 Jimmy was elected the first National Secretary of the newly established B.L.O.E. Despite the heavy workload of these offices Jimmy remained heavily involved in the promotion of Juvenile Athletics in his local club.

In 1985 Jimmy was one of the prime movers in the unifying of all athletics in the parish under the banner of Moycarkey – Coolcroo and the new Red and Black singlets. Jimmy remained involved in the club throughout the years and appreciated the achievements of all its athletes from The Healy’s in the early years to Tomas Coman in the modern Olympic Games.

When the time came to write the definitive history of athletics in the parish, Jimmy took on the mammoth task of editing the publication. The resulting “Moycarkey Coolcroo 1936-2006, A Tipperary Athletic club” is a testimony to Jimmy’s thorough research and writing skills.

In parallel with Jimmy’s involvement with Athletics administration he became a respected columnist and reporter on athletics in the Tipperary Star, Clonmel Nationalist, Gaelic Weekly and Marathon magazine.

Jimmy bequeathed us a considerable library of quality writing, not just the Moycarkey-Coolcroo book, but also the Moycarkey-Borris GAA Story published in the Mid 1980’s and his own memoir Hillside Views 2011 which sold out in weeks. But you will find Jimmy’s writing in past newspapers, magazines, Athletics reports, Hurling reports, Football reports, Match programmes, Field openings, the Souvenir booklet for the millennium year opening of the memorial wall for the Two Mile Borris All Ireland Winning team of 1900 and many other written sources. Much of Jimmy’s writing can be found under other people’s names as he was an expert Ghost writer for anybody who needed an article or special column.

Jimmy’s path into Journalism and Sports reporting was not accidental but the realization of his true vocation.
After leaving school, where he was an able student, Jimmy came home to the family farm in Skehana. In his memoir Jimmy admits that he wasn’t cut out for farming. He didn’t enjoy harrowing and other such work involving horses.

His real passions for reading, writing, researching and journalism were taking hold. Long before distance and online learning, Jimmy was getting qualifications for journalism via correspondence courses. In 1967 he received a qualification in Free-Lance Journalism from the London College of International Correspondence.

Jimmy’s first break into journalism came via Raymond Smith in the Munster Tribune newspaper in Clonmel. He did reports on local news and Athletics. Soon he was appointed Athletics correspondent for the paper. When that publication folded, Jimmy was recruited to do a weekly column on Athletics for the Tipperary Star and the Clonmel Nationalist. In the late 1960’s Jimmy took up a full-time position as a Journalist in Dublin for a publication called The Gaelic Weekly.

When The Gaelic Weekly ceased publication in 1970 Jimmy returned to match reports with the Tipperary Star and was subsequently appointed full time there. He spent six years full time with the Star covering everything from the Courts, the Council, Sports news etc.

Jimmy could recall many interesting and humorous stories from his career as a journalist in an era of basic technology long before smartphones, WiFi and social media. The value of the advice from a senior. One such story involved Jimmy’s part in a great scoop. A trusted source informed him that prayers had been said in Ballingarry Church over the weekend for John Joe Barry the famous “Ballincurry Hare”. This quickly became a front-page story on the Star and nationally but a phone call from the editor to Jimmy via Corcoran’s Bar informed him that alas it wasn’t true. John Joe was alive and well and was subsequently photographed with Jimmy in the Tipperary Star office. Jimmy resigned from the Star in 1979 to set up his own printing and writing business at home in Skehana Hill.

Jimmy’s first experience in GAA administration was at the age of nineteen when he assumed the positions of Treasurer and PRO in Two Mile Borris GAA. At that time, he was a midfield player in the hurling team and the goalkeeper in the football team.

Jimmy remained involved in the Moycarkey-Borris GAA club over the years and in the 1980’s as his new business grew he gave generously of his time and talents to serve as a key leader in club administration and team management. His writing and printing expertise in a golden era for the club made Skehana Hill the nerve centre of club activity. Jimmy’s know how in combination with his neighbouring close friends Conor Kennedy, Harry Ryan, Liam Hennessy, John Hackett, Gus Ryan, Michael Clohessy and others made a great leadership team.

Jimmy was a trusted and respected judge of hurling and used his abilities as a Selector on various Moycarkey-Borris teams of this era. In 1982 he reached the pinnacle as a selector with Gus Ryan, Sean Barry, Larry Ryan and Paddy Coman, when Moycarkey-Borris won the County and Munster Senior Hurling Championships. Further success as a Selector followed for Jimmy in 1985 when he was a Selector for the club’s second team that won the County Intermediate Hurling Championship.

Jimmy served four years as Secretary in Moycarkey Borris GAA club and several more years as PRO. But he didn’t need any title or defined role to serve the club. The ancillary services and expertise he generously provided for all of us cannot be enumerated. All of us in the Senior and Juvenile club relied on Jimmy for the Secretary’s report, tickets, cards, County Board Draw materials, scripts for speeches, Fund-raising events, Club developments etc.

Jimmy’s was an open house. He didn’t operate regular opening or closing hours and people needing writing and printing were always welcome. He could read our awful handwriting, inoffensively correct our spelling, improve our punctuation and give us sound advice. He often worked late into the night to get urgent work ready for us. He was an invaluable resource for the Mid Board, it’s Chairmen and Secretaries.
Jimmy was never critical of individual players and with his journalistic eye always looked at the big picture in analysing a game.

A quiet man, Jimmy was humble, self-effacing and avoided the spotlight. A trusted friend and neighbour, Jimmy led a decent and balanced life, always finding the time to listen, the time to smile, the time to remember, the time to pray, the time to read and the time to travel.
Our community has been very fortunate to have Jimmy in our midst, a gifted person who generously shared his many gifts with us.

His memorial stone acknowledges our appreciation of Jimmy Fogarty, our esteemed scribe, friend and neighbour.
Nì bheidh a leithèad ann arīs.”

The plaque was then unveiled by Mr John Hackett and the plaque and cemetery was blessed by Fr. George Bourke.

Mr Bowe (MC) then invited Mr Eamon Kelly to speak on behalf of the extended members of the Fogarty family in attendance.

Mr Kelly stated, “Joan & I would like to thank you all for coming here today despite Covid-19’s best efforts to thwart this memorable unveiling. I would like to fully associate with all of the previous speakers’ comments. We would like to thank Fr. George for first mooting the idea of a plaque and John & Gerry & Enda for their help in seeing it through to finality. Thank you, Tracy & Eamon, for the use of the flags, a lovely touch. And to James a job well done with the plaque, thank you all very very much.

Besides Athletics & GAA Jimmy had many other loves in his life, two of which I will briefly mention.

One was his love of journalism and this is just one job reference I found in his not so very organised printing room. It reads:

To whom it concerns,
Jimmy Fogarty has worked for the Tipperary Star in a number of capacities from 1960 to the present day. In all that time he has always been a most efficient and diligent worker and an employee of the highest integrity. I have no hesitation in recommending him to any employer and would go so far as to say that the employer who secures his services is a very lucky man or woman.
It was signed by Michael Dundon (Editor) Tipperary Star newspaper in April 1989.

That reference truly reflects the esteem with which Jimmy was held in his place of work.

Another love of his life was family. Last week I sent a message to our son Luke in Sydney about the erection of Jimmy’s plaque and this is the reply I received.

“So much about Jim I will never forget, my first hurley, my first Tipperary hurling kit, my first time staying in Two Mile Borris, Jim buying breakfast for me in Bewley’s on Grafton Street; the “yeh yeh yeh yeh yeh” in mid conversations; But the biggest thing I remember about Jim was the unconditional morals he had and his first moral was always family first”.

Neal’s memories are of being brought to Semple Stadium for a Munster Final and being treated to lunch in Hayes Hotel, the original home of the GAA.

That reflects Jimmy’s influence on two young men over 40 years his junior.
It’s wonderful for all of us to be able to remember Jimmy every time we visit this cemetery and for those who visit and maybe have never heard of Jimmy Fogarty it will encourage some curiosity as to who he was and what he stood for.
Ni bheidh a leithéad ann arís.
Go raibh maith agaibh go léir.”

Before closing the proceedings, Mr Bowe thanked Fr. George Bourke and Fr. Tom Fogarty for celebrating the Mass, together with sacristan, Ms Kitty Kelly. He further thanked the Kelly and Maher family members for their attendance, Fr. George Bourke for his kind sponsorship of the plaque and James Slattery, Monumental Works, Thurles for mounting the plaque on the wall. He thanked Mr Joe Moran and Mr John Hackett for performing their duties on the day, and Mr Noel Maher for recording the event; Mr Eamon Darmody for erecting the flags in the Cemetery and to Ms Tracey Darmody, ‘Scallywags Play School’ for sponsoring the flags at the GAA monument in the village.

Mr Bowe thanked his committee members, John and Liam Hackett, Enda Bourke, Tracey and Eamon Darmody, Fr. George Bourke and Eamon Kelly for their advice and contribution to the day’s events.

Before inviting those in attendance to ‘Bannons’ for refreshments, he thanked Billy and Veronica Lanigan for their hospitality and finally the late Jimmy Fogarty himself for his association with Moycarkey Coolcroo Athletic Club and Moycarkey Borris GAA club, who continue to make a huge contribution to sport within in the parish.

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Semple Stadium – Fields of Legends.

‘Semple Stadium – Fields of Legends’ – by Author Liam Ó Donnchú.

Semple Stadium, Thurles, Co Tipperary, is truly “the home of hurling”.

This illustrated history of Semple Stadium begins in 1884, when the GAA was founded in Thurles and chronicles the story of ‘Thurles Sportsfield’, from its purchase in 1910, right up to the present day.

This truly major publication features all its great days; from the development of the stadium; major games that were played there; significant players and managers; broadcasting from the grounds; the work of the groundsmen, Féile-The Trip to Tipp and other events held at the stadium over the years.

It also contains personal recollections and accounts of this place where legends are made. The publication is also richly illustrated by archive photographs and ephemera.

The Author.

Liam Ó Donnchú is a native of Hollyford, County Tipperary and now resides at Ballymoreen, near Thurles.

Having spent over four decades as a primary school teacher; Liam, now retired, is director of Lár na Páirce, the museum of Gaelic Games in Thurles and for many years, PRO of Semple Stadium. He is a former player, secretary and chairman of Thurles Sarsfields GAA club and at present its vice-president.

Liam is author of such publications as: Thurles Sarsfields GAA Story Vol 1&2, Tom Semple and The Thurles Blues, Pouldine School-Inné agus Inniu, co-author of Tipperary’s GAA Ballads, Horse and Jockey- a pictorial record and has written numerous articles on Gaelic games.

His latest book, ‘Semple Stadium – Fields of Legends’ will be published this September by the O’Brien Press and is available to pre-order online at Eason [ Link https://bit.ly/3ztEhGL ]

The book, which we highly recommend to lovers of Gaelic sports, is published in hardback; contains 384 pages and costs €24.99.

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Possible Holycross Visitor Experience Being Examined.

Holycross community are possibly moving forward with a plan to create a Holycross Visitor Experience, next to and within the present Holycross Abbey grounds.

It is hoped that this experience will encourage more tourism into the area, while creating jobs and further boosting the local economy.

People are being asked if they could take a few minutes to complete a survey which would help those involved, to evaluate how people feel this space could be best used and designed to further benefit the community and the wider surrounding areas.

Community Consultation SurveyPlease VIEW HERE and complete.

While the project is currently up for discussion one possible aim is to create a visitor type experience; telling the story of the monks who once inhabited the area, concentrating perhaps on the way they lived their lives etc. Perhaps stories regarding the true cross; utilising this experience as a preparation for entering into the main historic Abbey Church building.

This exciting project will be a completely community led project, so as much feedback as possible is being sought from the local Tipperary public.

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Tipperary Born Tom Clarke, True Leader Of 1916 Easter Rising.

Tipperary born Tom Clarke first signatory of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic.

The Protestant Church of St. Paul In Clogheen Co. Tipperary, has today been reduced, like so many Protestant Churches in Ireland, to the status of a Community Centre.

According to a plaque over the doorway in the porch; the former Church dates back to 1846, the first full year of the Great Famine (1845-1849) and was closed officially in 1976.

The building, showing every evidence of high quality early nineteenth-century craftsmanship and design, is associated with Clonmel, Co. Tipperary born and renowned architect, William Tinsley. Tinsley you will remember, in 1836, also constructed the Chapter House, once home to the Bolton Library, in Cashel, Co. Tipperary.

Architect William Tinsley: William Tinsley served as a juryman in the William Smith O’Brien trial, held in Clonmel in 1848. O’Brien, then leader of the ‘Young Irelanders’ had been arrested at Thurles Railway Station, and following his trial was convicted of sedition for his part in the Ballingarry (South Riding) Uprising near Thurles, [“Battle of Widow McCormack’s Cabbage Patch”] in that same year.
Although an independently wealthy property owner in Clonmel, it is thought that his known association with the William Smith O’Brien trial as a Juryman, together with Great Famine conditions, may have contributed to a decline in Tinsley’s business. Same is understood to have resulted in his decision, in 1851, to emigrate to Cincinnati, Ohio, US, with his second wife Lucy and their nine children. His first wife, Ellen MacCarthy, had died of tuberculosis after just two years of marriage. He then had married her cousin Lucy MacCarthy, latter who died in 1857 in Indianapolis, Indiana. His third marriage, to Mary Eliza Nixon, ended in estrangement. In total he had fathered seventeen children by his three wives. Following his death in 1885, he was interred at Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, Indiana, US.

A short distance from the Church, Tom Clarke, [Tomás Séamus Ó Cléirigh], was born on March 11th 1857 in Main Street Clogheen, Co Tipperary, the son of Irish Catholic servant girl Mary Palmer and Irish Protestant British Army Sergeant James Clarke. Two months later the couple married in this same St. Paul’s (C of I) Church, at Lower Main Street, Clogheen Market, Clogheen, South Co. Tipperary, (Picture hereunder). Over the next 12 years together Mary and James would add two girls and one other boy to their family unit.

In 1865, after spending some years in South Africa, his father Sgt. Clarke was transferred to the Ulster town of Dungannon, County Tyrone, Ireland, and it was here that Tom spent his formative years, bonding strongly with both his parents and siblings.

Former Protestant Famine Church of Saint Paul, Lower Main Street, Clogheen Market, Clogheen, South Co. Tipperary.
Photographer: G. Willoughby.

Highly intelligent; whose hero was Theobald Wolfe Tone, latter a leading protestant Irish revolutionary figure and founder members of the republican society known as the United Irishmen, Tom Clarke went on to became an assistant teacher at a local school, while developing a passion for politics.

Rejecting only his father’s British Army uniform; Tom Clarke was constantly warned by his father James, that defying the might of the Great British Empire, was completely futile. However, being naturally rebellious and sympathetic of the rough treatment issued out to Dutch, German, and Huguenot settlers (Boers) in South Africa, Tom had come to regard the British Army stationed in South Africa as ‘an imperial garrison of oppression’ since the area came into their possession in 1806, as a result of the Napoleonic wars.

For centuries the Irish town of Dungannon had been a den of bitter religious hatred and political antagonisms between Catholics and Protestants. In 1878 Tom heard a speech by the national organiser of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) John Daly and a short time later, at the age of 21years he joined the organisation, having come to the realisation that his future must involve attempts aimed at the destruction of every vestige of British authority within Ireland.

By 1880, he had risen to be head of his local Irish Republican Brotherhood group. It was at this time that an RIC officer had shot and killed a man during riots between the Orange Order, latter a Protestant fraternal order and the Ancient Order of Hibernians, latter a Roman Catholic organisation. A revenge attack by Clarke and his followers on the RIC in Irish Street, Dungannon failed; forcing Clarke, who now feared arrest, to flee to New York, where he soon joined Clan na Gael, the then leading republican organisation in America. Eager to strike at the very heart of the British Empire, he volunteered to join the Fenian dynamite campaign (carried out in England between the years 1881 and 1885). This campaign had been advocated by Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, one of the IRB leaders, also then exiled in the United States.

In 1883, using the alias Henry Wilson, Clarke was sent to London. However, aided by paid informants, British authorities were already on the heels of those involved. Clarke was arrested while found to be in possession of dynamite, as were three of his associates. He was sent for trial at London’s Old Bailey, before being sentenced to penal servitude for life, on May, 28th 1883.

He would serve 15 years in prisons Pentonville, (Islington, Central London), Chatham, (St. Mary’s Island Kent) and Isle of Portland prison, (Dorset) before his release in 1898. Following years of invasive body searches, systematic sleep deprivation and constant isolation, his hatred of the British establishment made him even more determined to continue in his efforts to overthrow British rule in Ireland.

Released and now 41-years-old, he moved to Brooklyn in the United States, where he would be later be joined by the very lovely Kathleen Daly; the 20-year-old fiercely republican niece of his aforementioned mentor and prison comrade John Daly. Despite their age difference they were subsequent married on July 16th 1901, in New York City.

Kathleen Clarke, (née Daly)

Kathleen Clarke (née Daly) would become a founder member of Cumann na mBan in 1914 and later subsequently a Teachta Dála (TD) and Senator with both Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil, and would become the first female Lord Mayor of Dublin (1939–41).

In late 1902 Kildare born John Devoy the then leader of Clan na Gael, conscience of Clarke’s organising ability, appointed him the editor of his weekly newspaper “The Gaelic American”, which documented the struggles of Irish Americans and was published in the United States from 1903 to 1951.

John Devoy was one of the few people to have played a role in the Fenian Rising of 1867, the Easter Rising of 1916 and the Irish War of Independence of 1919–1921, and had orchestrated the escape of IRB founder and Kilkenny born James Stephens from Richmond Prison in Dublin. Following his death in 1928 The Times of London newspaper described Devoy as, “the most bitter and persistent, as well as the most dangerous, enemy of this country which Ireland has produced since Wolfe Tone”.

Tom proved to be a talented journalist and his anti-British propaganda soon attracted 30,000 readers across America. Under the intensive instruction of John Devoy, Clarke learned the valuable techniques on how to manage a revolutionary organisation; how to manipulate people and when to exercise power.

Tom Clarke returned to Ireland in November 1907, opening a small newspaper, stationers and tobacconist shop at No 55 Amien Street, Dublin. Within the next 5 years he had successfully rid the IRB of its entrenched older individuals which formerly made up what Clarke saw as a failed supreme Council and had befriended Sean MacDermott, a younger man who shared his love of conspiracy and revolutionary ideals.

Tom Clarke pictured standing outside his shop at No 55 Amien Street, Dublin.

With the start of the first World War in August 1914, Clarke and MacDermott both saw their opportunity and established a military council made up of Patrick Pearse, Joseph Plunkett and Eamonn Ceannt to secretly devise plans for a rising, supervised by Clarke himself and MacDermott. In January 1916 Clarke forged an alliance with James Connolly, informing him of most of his Military Council’s plans.

The agreement by Germany to supply a shipment of arms for a rising on Sunday, April 23rd, 1916, seemed to place everything in position. However, as we now know, Volunteer President Eoin MacNeill countermanded the parades that were to precede the uprising. Clarke’s Military Council however decided to proceed on Easter Monday in the hope that the nation would respond. There would be no real response.

The Easter 1916 Rising began on Easter Monday, April 24th 1916 and lasted for six days, ending on April 29th, 1916.

Of the 485 people killed, 260 of these were civilians, 143 were British military and RIC personnel. Irish rebels deaths made up 82 in total, including 16 rebels executed for their roles in the Rising. More than 2,600 individuals were wounded, with many of the civilians either killed or wounded by British artillery fire mistaken for rebels or caught in the crossfire during firefights between the British and the rebels.

Tom Clarke’s court martial on Tuesday May 2nd lasted approximately 15 minutes. He made no statement, called no witnesses and only entered a plea of not guilty, so as to deny being a German agent.

Found guilty and sentenced to death, early the next day he was brought with Pearse and MacDonagh to Kilmainham Gaol. In the morning he was allowed a final farewell visit from his wife.

Shortly before 3:00am he entered the stone-breakers’ yard and after vainly offering to forego a blindfold, he was executed by a 12-man firing squad as was Pearse and MacDonagh; all in quick succession.

A horse-drawn ambulance was used to carry the three corpses of the executed men to Arbour Hill for interment in unmarked graves in the exercise yard of the military prison, behind what we today know as Collins Barracks. The buildings now house the National Museum of Ireland (Decorative Arts and History).

A request by his wife and three sons to have Tom’s body taken for interment to a family plot, was rejected by Colonial Governor, General Sir John Grenfell Maxwell, latter who had played a key part in the response to the 1916 Irish Easter Rising, including the ordering of the execution of all leaders of the rising.

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