Thomas Stanislaus MacDonagh (Irish: Tomás Anéislis Mac Donnchadha; 1 February 1878 – 3 May 1916) was an Irish political activist, poet, playwright, educationalist and revolutionary leader. He was one of the seven leaders of the Easter Rising of 1916, a signatory of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic and Commandant of the 2nd Battalion, Dublin Brigade of the Irish Volunteers, which fought in Jacob's biscuit factory. He was executed for his part in the Rising at the age of thirty-eight.
MacDonagh was assistant headmaster at St. Enda's School, Scoil Éanna, and lecturer in English at University College Dublin. He was a member of the Gaelic League, where he befriended Patrick Pearse and Eoin MacNeill. He was a founding member of the Irish Volunteers with MacNeill and Pearse. He wrote poetry and plays. His play, When the Dawn is Come, was produced by the Abbey Theatre in 1908. Other plays include Metempsychosis, 1912 and Pagans, 1915, both produced by the Irish Theatre Company.
|Born||1 February 1878|
Cloughjordan, County Tipperary, Ireland
|Died||3 May 1916 (aged 38)|
Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin, Ireland
|Years of service||1913–1916|
|Commands held||2nd Battalion|
He was born, as Joseph McDonagh, in Cloughjordan, County Tipperary, to Joseph McDonagh, a schoolmaster, and Mary Parker. He grew up in a household filled with music, poetry and learning and was instilled with a love of both English and Irish culture from a young age.
Both his parents were teachers; who strongly emphasised education. MacDonagh attended Rockwell College. While there MacDonagh spent several years as a scholastic, sometimes a preparation for a missionary career, however, after a few years he realised that it wasn't the life for him, and left. Very soon after, he published his first book of poems, Through the Ivory Gate, in 1902. He taught in St Kieran's College in Kilkenny and from 1903 he was employed as a professor of French, English and Latin at St. Colman's College, Fermoy, Co Cork, where he also formed a branch of the Gaelic League. While in Fermoy, MacDonagh was one of the founding members of ASTI, the secondary teachers association which was formed in the Fermoy College in 1908. He moved to Dublin, soon establishing strong friendships with such men as Eoin MacNeill and Patrick Pearse.
His friendship with Pearse and his love of Irish led him to join the staff of Pearse's bilingual St. Enda's School upon its establishment in 1908, taking the role of French and English teacher and Assistant Headmaster. He was one of the founders of the teachers' trade union ASTI (Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland). MacDonagh was essential to the school's early success, on his marriage he took the position of lecturer in English at the National University, while continuing to support St Enda's. MacDonagh remained devoted to the Irish language, and in 1910 he became tutor to a younger member of the Gaelic League, Joseph Plunkett. The two were both poets with an interest in the Irish Theatre, and formed a lifelong friendship.
On 3 January 1912 he married Muriel Gifford (a member of the Church of Ireland, though neither she nor he was a churchgoer); their son, Donagh, was born that November, and their daughter, Barbara, in March 1915. Muriel's sister, Grace Gifford, was to marry Joseph Mary Plunkett hours before his execution in 1916.
MacDonagh was a member of the Irish Women's Franchise League. He supported the strikers during the Dublin lockout and was a member of the "Industrial Peace Committee" alongside Joseph Plunkett, whose stated aim was to achieve a fair outcome to the dispute.
In 1913 both MacDonagh and Plunkett attended the inaugural meeting of the Irish Volunteers and joined its Provisional Committee. MacDonagh was later appointed Commandant of Dublin's 2nd battalion, and eventually made commandant of the entire Dublin Brigade. Although originally a pure constitutionalist, through his dealings with men such as Pearse, Plunkett, and Sean MacDermott, and through the increasing militarisation of Europe in the onset of World War I, MacDonagh developed stronger republican beliefs, joining the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), probably during the summer of 1915. Around this time Tom Clarke asked him to plan the grandiose funeral of Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa, which was a resounding propaganda success, largely due to the graveside oration delivered by Pearse.
Though credited as one of the Easter Rising's seven leaders, MacDonagh was a late addition to that group. He didn't join the secret Military Council that planned the rising until April 1916, weeks before the rising took place. The reason for his admittance at such a late date is uncertain. Still a relative newcomer to the IRB, men such as Clarke may have been hesitant to elevate him to such a high position too soon, which raises the question as to why he should be admitted at all. His close ties to Pearse and Plunkett may have been the cause, as well as his position as commandant of the Dublin Brigade (though his position as such would later be superseded by James Connolly as commandant-general of the Dublin division). Nevertheless, MacDonagh was a signatory of the Proclamation of the Republic.
During the rising, MacDonagh's battalion was stationed at the massive complex of Jacob's Biscuit Factory. On the way to this destination the battalion encountered the veteran Fenian, John MacBride, who on the spot joined the battalion as second-in-command, and in fact took over part of the command throughout Easter Week, although he had had no prior knowledge and was in the area by accident. MacDonagh's original second in command was Michael O'Hanrahan.
As it was, despite MacDonagh's rank and the fact that he commanded one of the strongest battalions, they saw little fighting, as the British Army avoided the factory as they established positions in central Dublin. MacDonagh received the order to surrender on 30 April, though his entire battalion was fully prepared to continue the engagement. Following the surrender, MacDonagh was court martialled, and executed by firing squad on 3 May 1916, aged thirty-eight. He was the 3rd signatory of the Proclamation to be shot. It is said that as he was taken from his cell to be executed he whistled.
His widow, Muriel, died of heart failure while swimming in Skerries, County Dublin on 9 July 1917; his son Donagh MacDonagh became a judge, and was also a prominent poet, Broadway playwright, songwriter and broadcaster, a central member of the Irish literary revival of the 1940s/1960s. He married Nuala Smyth and they had four children. Barbara married the actor Liam Redmond and they had four children. During the 1950s and 1960s she wrote many scripts for Radio Éireann, the Irish national radio broadcaster, using her husband's more famous name.
MacDonagh was generally credited with being one of the most gregarious and personable of the rising's leaders. Geraldine Plunkett Dillon, a sister of Joseph Plunkett gives a contemporary description of him in her book All in the Blood: "As soon as Tomás came into our house everyone was a friend of his. He had a pleasant, intelligent face and was always smiling, and you had the impression that he was always thinking about what you were saying." In Mary Colum's Life and the Dream, she writes of hearing about the Rising from America, where she was living with her husband, Pádraic Colum, remembering Tomás MacDonagh saying to her: "This country will be one entire slum unless we get into action, in spite of our literary movements and Gaelic Leagues it is going down and down. There is no life or heart left in the country."
A prominent figure in the Dublin literary world, he was commemorated in several poems by W.B. Yeats and in his friend Francis Ledwidge's Lament for Thomas MacDonagh. In a poem rich with allegory – the Dark Cow is an 18th-century symbol of Ireland, for instance – the doomed Ledwidge wrote:
'He shall not hear the bittern cry
In the wild sky where he is lain,
Nor voices of the sweeter birds
Above the wailing of the rain…
But when the Dark Cow leaves the moor
And pastures poor with greedy weeds,
Perhaps he'll hear her low at morn,
Lifting her horn in pleasant meads.
Ledwidge himself would die a year later, blown to pieces in Ypres, ironically while fighting for the British Empire.
Thomas MacDonagh Tower in Ballymun, Dublin, which was built in the 1960s and demolished in June 2005, was named after him. MacDonagh had taught in St Kieran's College, Kilkenny City during the early years of his career, where MacDonagh Railway Station was named in his memory, as was the MacDonagh Junction shopping centre.
The Thomas MacDonagh Heritage Centre in Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary was opened in 2013. The centre houses the town library and exhibition space. An annual Thomas MacDonagh Summer School takes place in Cloughjordan over the May bank holiday weekend.
His works include:
Events from the year 1916 in Ireland.An Bonnán Buí
"An Bonnán Buí" (The yellow bittern) is a classic poem in Irish by the poet Cathal Buí Mac Giolla Ghunna. In addition to the conventional end-rhyme, it uses internal rhyme ("A bhonnán bhuí, is é mo léan do luí / Is do chnámha sínte tar éis do ghrinn") - in the Irish language all the italicised elements have the same long 'ee' sound (pronounced [ɪː]), a technique characteristic of Gaelic poetry of the era.
The poem is in the form of a lament for a bittern that died of thirst, but is also a tongue in cheek defence by the poet of his own drinking habit. It has been translated into English by, among others, James Stephens, Thomas MacDonagh, Thomas Kinsella, and Seamus Heaney. The Irish words have been used as lyrics by the band Clannad on their album Crann Ull (as Bunan Bui) and the English words (MacDonagh version) on Cathie Ryan's album The Music Of What Happens (1998). Anne Brigg's song "Bonambuie", from her album Sing a Song for You, is based on the MacDonagh version, though using something close to the original Irish title.
The Yellow Bittern is also the name of a 1917 play about the death of Mac Giolla Ghunna by Daniel Corkery.
The version by Thomas MacDonagh is especially notable because in addition to keeping close to the original wording, MacDonagh attempts with considerable success to replicate in English the internal rhyme technique ("His bones are thrown on a naked stone / Where he lived alone like a hermit monk."), and the surreal humour of the Irish version.Ballingeary
Ballingeary (Irish: Béal Átha an Ghaorthaidh, pronounced [bʲial̪ˠ ɑhən̪ˠ ˈɣʷeːrˠhiɡʲ]) is a village in the Shehy Mountains in County Cork, Ireland.The village is within the Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking area) and has an active Irish-language summer school, Coláiste na Mumhan (The College of Munster), which was attended by Thomas MacDonagh in the summer of 1906. It also hosts a yearly agricultural and horticultural show.
The River Lee rises a few miles west of the village, at Gougane Barra Park.Ballyphehane
Ballyphehane (Irish: Baile Féitheáin) is a suburb in the south of Cork in Ireland. It is one of the oldest suburbs in Cork and was created as part of a post-World War II initiative to create a model community in Cork. Between 1948 and 1993, a total of 11 housing schemes totalling 1,316 dwellings were built by Cork Corporation, now known as Cork City Council. Many of the main roads in Ballyphehane are named after the executed leaders of the 1916 Rising including Patrick Pearse, James Connolly, Thomas MacDonagh and Thomas Kent.
The combined population of the Ballyphehane A and Ballyphehane B electoral divisions is 1,443. However, without strictly defined boundaries, many definitions of Ballyphehane include some or possibly all of the Pouladuff A and Pouladuff B electoral divisions.Cloughjordan
Cloughjordan, officially Cloghjordan ( klok-JOR-dən, Irish: Cloch Shiurdáin, meaning "Siurdán's stone"), is a town in County Tipperary in Ireland. It is in the barony of Ormond Lower, and it is also a parish in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Killaloe.The town is situated in the north-western part of Tipperary close to the Offaly border. It is almost equidistant from Nenagh, Roscrea and Birr and is close to Ireland's largest river, the Shannon, and Lough Derg.
Poet and patriot Thomas MacDonagh, a native of Cloughjordan, described it as a place "in calm of middle country".
Unusually for a town of its size (the 2002 Census Records places the population at 431), it has three churches – Roman Catholic (SS Michael and John's, built in 1898), Church of Ireland (St Kieran's, 1837) and Methodist (1875).
Cloughjordan is in the Dáil constituency of Offaly which incorporates 24 electoral divisions that were previously in the Tipperary North Dáil constituency.Easter, 1916
Easter, 1916 is a poem by W. B. Yeats describing the poet's torn emotions regarding the events of the Easter Rising staged in Ireland against British rule on Easter Monday, April 24, 1916. The uprising was unsuccessful, and most of the Irish republican leaders involved were executed for treason. The poem was written between May and September 1916, but first published in 1921 in the collection Michael Robartes and the Dancer.Eurasian bittern
The Eurasian bittern or great bittern (Botaurus stellaris) is a wading bird in the bittern subfamily (Botaurinae) of the heron family Ardeidae. There are two subspecies, the northern race (B. s. stellaris) breeding in parts of Europe and Asia, as well as on the northern coast of Africa, while the southern race (B. s. capensis) is endemic to parts of southern Africa. It is a secretive bird, seldom seen in the open as it prefers to skulk in reed beds and thick vegetation near water bodies. Its presence is apparent in the spring, when the booming call of the male during the breeding season can be heard. It feeds on fish, small mammals, fledgling birds, amphibians, crustaceans and insects.
The nest is usually built among reeds at the edge of bodies of water. The female incubates the clutch of eggs and feeds the young chicks, which leave the nest when about two weeks old. She continues to care for them until they are fully fledged some six weeks later.
With its specific habitat requirements and the general reduction in wetlands across its range, the population is thought to be in decline globally. However the decline is slow, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed its overall conservation status as being of "least concern". Nevertheless, some local populations are at risk and the population of the southern race has declined more dramatically and is cause for concern. In the United Kingdom it is one of the most threatened of all bird species.Irish Literary Revival
The Irish Literary Revival (also called the Irish Literary Renaissance, nicknamed the Celtic Twilight) was a flowering of Irish literary talent in the late 19th and early 20th century.Irish Women's Franchise League
The Irish Women's Franchise League was an organisation for women's suffrage which was set up in Dublin in November 1908. Its founder members included Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington, Francis Sheehy-Skeffington and James H. Cousins. Thomas MacDonagh was a member.
Its paper was The Irish Citizen, which was published from 1912 to 1920. The paper was edited originally by James H. Cousins.John MacDonagh
John MacDonagh (1880–1961) was an Irish film director, playwright, republican, and a participant in the 1916 Easter Rising.
MacDonagh was born in Cloughjordan, County Tipperary, where he grew up in a household filled with music, poetry and learning. Both his parents were teachers who strongly emphasized the value of education.He toured with the Moody Manners Opera Company in England and the United States before writing the script for D.W. Griffith’s The Fugitive (1910).During the 1916 Easter Rising, he was stationed alongside his brother Thomas MacDonagh (one of the seven leaders of the Rising) at the massive complex of Jacob's Biscuit Factory. Following the surrender, Thomas MacDonagh was court martialled, and executed by firing squad on 3 May 1916, aged thirty-eight.
MacDonagh last saw his brother in Richmond Barracks after the surrender. He was initially sentenced to life imprisonment and was sent to Knutsford Prison and thence to Frongoch internment camp, from which he was released in August 1916.
He became involved with the Film Company of Ireland. His first film as director was the comedy Paying the Rent (1917), starring Arthur Sinclair and photographed by Brian Magowan. This was followed by the feature Willy Reilly and his Colleen Bawn (1920, at the height of the Irish War of Independence), a historical drama based on a novel by William Carleton and produced by Jim Sullivan. It was shot in the grounds of St Enda’s Rathfarnham, where his brother Thomas and Patrick Pearse had founded a school to promote Irish education. John MacDonagh played the part of Tom the Fool (under the alias of Richard Sheridan) in the film. Some of the actors, such as George Nesbit and Jim Plant, used false names in the credits to protect themselves during those politically troubled times. It was premiered at the Bohemian Cinema, Dublin, in April 1920. He also filmed the funeral of his brother Thomas MacDonagh's wife, Muriel, the largest ever seen in Dublin at the time. At the same time as filming Willy Reilly, he filmed the issuing of Republican Loan bonds by Michael Collins, signed on the block on which Robert Emmet had been beheaded. Buying the bonds were what the subtitle cards described as 'Republican notabilities' including Erskine Childers, Arthur Griffith, Grace Gifford (whose sister Muriel had married Thomas MacDonagh, and who married Joseph Plunkett an hour before his execution in 1916), and Joseph MacDonagh, his brother, Minister for Labour in the first Dáil, who would die on hunger strike on Christmas Day 1922.
After making other films in the United States he returned to theatre. From 1920 he managed the Irish Theatre Company's theatre in Hardwicke Street working with, among others, Jimmy O'Dea. In 1921 he wrote the theatrical hit The Irish Jew, about the election of a Jew as Lord Mayor of Dublin, for Broadway, in which O'Dea played a cameo part. This helped O'Dea on the way to become Ireland's most popular comedian. In 1922 he directed some light comedy films produced by Norman Whitten, including Casey's Millions, with Barrett MacDonnell, Chris Sylvester and Jimmy O'Dea, which was critically well received. In the same year he directed Wicklow Gold, from a libretto by himself, with Chris Sylvester, Jimmy O'Dea and Abbey actress Ria Mooney.After working in plays by Shaw for a few years he and Jimmy O'Dea did revues, the first of which, Dublin To-Night, was produced at the Queen's Theatre in 1924. In 1928, this company's first production Here We Are won international acclaim, and in December of the same year it produced its first Christmas Pantomime, Sinbad the Sailor.
He subsequently returned to Ireland and joined RTÉ as productions director, a position he held until 1947.Joseph MacDonagh
Joseph MacDonagh (18 May 1883 – 25 December 1922) was an Irish Sinn Féin politician. He was born in Cloughjordan, County Tipperary, the brother of the executed 1916 Easter Rising leader Thomas MacDonagh and film director John MacDonagh.He was elected unopposed as a Sinn Féin MP for the Tipperary North constituency at the 1918 general election. In January 1919, Sinn Féin MPs refused to recognise the Parliament of the United Kingdom and instead assembled at the Mansion House in Dublin as a revolutionary parliament called Dáil Éireann, though MacDonagh did not attend as he was in prison. He was elected unopposed as a Sinn Féin Teachta Dála (TD) for the Tipperary Mid, North and South constituency at the 1921 elections. He also served as an alderman of Rathmines Urban District Council and Dublin Corporation between 1920 and 1922.
He was Director of the "Belfast Boycott", an attempt in 1920–21 to boycott goods from Ulster that were being imported into the south of Ireland. He opposed the Anglo-Irish Treaty and voted against it. He was re-elected for the same constituency at the 1922 general election, this time as an anti-Treaty Sinn Féin TD, but he did not take his seat in the Dáil. He died from the effects of a burst appendix on Christmas Day 1922.Kilkenny railway station
Kilkenny railway station (MacDonagh Station), (Irish: Stáisiún Mhic Donncha) serves the city of Kilkenny in County Kilkenny.
It is a station on the Dublin to Waterford intercity route. and was given the name MacDonagh on 10 April 1966 in commemoration of Thomas MacDonagh, one of the executed leaders of the Easter Rising of 1916.
It is on a short spur off the main railway line, at a distance of approximately 4.5 km from the Lavistown Loop Line. This requires trains to exit the station in the same direction from which they entered. This meant shunting the locomotive from one end of the train to the other. Today the use of IE 22000 Class railcars has eliminated the need for this procedure.Kilruane MacDonagh's GAA
Kilruane MacDonaghs GAA is a Tipperary GAA club which is located in County Tipperary, Ireland. Both hurling and Gaelic football are played in the "North-Tipperary" divisional competitions. The club is centred on the villages of Kilruane, Ardcroney and Cloughjordan. The club was founded in 1937 and is named after Thomas MacDonagh, a signatory of the 1916 Proclamation who was born and lived in Cloughjordan. The clubhouse and playing field are located in Cloughjordan.
The finest day in the club's history was in 1986 when it won the Senior Hurling Club All-Ireland title, defeating Buffers Alley of Wexford GAA in the final by 1-15 to 2-10.
The club incorporates many of clubs that existed in the parishes at the time. A forerunner to the MacDonaghs club was the famous De Wets formed in 1900.McDonagh
The Irish surname Mac Dhonnchadha, Mac Donnchadha or Mac Donnchaidh is the original form of McDonagh, McDonough, Donogh, and Donaghy.
These surnames are found in their greatest numbers in Connacht, especially the counties of Sligo, Roscommon and Galway.
Dhonnchadha, literally translated from the Irish language, means "brown warrior". The prefix mac means "son of".Michael Walker (cyclist)
Michael Walker (13 August 1885 – 17 March 1971) was an Irish cyclist. He represented Great Britain as a member of the Ireland team in two events at the 1912 Summer Olympics. He was Irish champion at 50 miles in 1913 and set national records at both 12 and 24 hours.With his brother John Walker, also an Olympic cyclist, he fought in the 1916 Rising for Irish independence. He was a member of the Irish Volunteers, 2nd Battalion, Jacob's Garrison, under the command of Thomas MacDonagh. He was subsequently imprisoned in H.M.P. Stafford, but later returned to Ireland to fight in the War of Independence.Saint Enda's Park
St Enda's Park (Irish: Páirc an Naomh Éanna) is a large public park in Rathfarnham in Ireland.
St Enda's was not always a public park. Patrick Pearse, one of the leaders of the Easter Rising in 1916 ran a school there, St Enda's School (or Scoil Éanna in Irish), in The Hermitage. This magnificent house was built in 1780 for the Dublin dentist Edward Hudson. Pearse, who was a teacher at the time, bought the building in 1910 as his school in Ranelagh was getting too small. Pearse considered the site ideal as his curriculum had a heavy emphasis on nature.
In the school, his brother, Willie Pearse, taught art and his sister Mary taught Irish. The Irish poets, Joseph Plunkett and Thomas MacDonagh also taught at the school. Both were executed after 1916 Rising as well as 15 former pupils of the school.
Leading up to the 1916 rising, the basement of the school was used as a bomb factory by Desmond Ryan and Liam Bulfin, both Irish Republican Brotherhood members. On Easter Monday, 1916, Padraig Pearse left the school for the last time and made his famous 5-mile march to the GPO.
The British forces occupied the Hermitage after the rising but in 1919, the school was opened once more by Mrs. Margaret Pearse and her daughter Margaret Mary Pearse. The school closed its doors in 1935 due to a lack of support. When Mrs. Pearse died in 1932, she wished that the building would be given over to the state after the lifetime of her daughter, Margaret. She made only two conditions, that the house would be open throughout the year (even Christmas day) and that entry would be free of charge for the public.
The Hermitage is now the Pearse Museum dedicated to the memory of Patrick Pearse, the Pearse family, and their school, and is open to the public all year round. The museum features articles and history about the school and the rising. Every Sunday from June to August, there is music entertainment in the courtyard (beside the Pearse Building).The Fugitive (1910 film)
The Fugitive is a 1910 American drama film directed by D. W. Griffith. Prints of the film survive at the film archive of the Library of Congress and at George Eastman House. The script was by John MacDonagh, who would later fight in the Easter Rising under the command of his brother, Thomas MacDonagh, one of the seven signatories of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, who would be executed by the British along with 15 other leaders after the Rising.
John MacDonagh's script was originally on an Orange/Green theme, and set in Ireland where unionists and nationalists were at war, rather than the American Civil War theme to which it was adapted. The plot involves two soldiers, one Confederate and one Union, who leave their families to go to war. After a skirmish they end up separated from their own sides; the Union soldier shoots the Confederate. Escaping from pursuing Confederates, he looks for refuge in the house of his enemy's family.Thomas MacDonagh's GFC
Thomas MacDonagh's Gaelic Football Club is a Gaelic Athletic Association amalgamation representing nine clubs in County Tipperary in Ireland. The club plays Gaelic football in the North division of Tipperary GAA and is named after the Irish revolutionary and Kilruane native Thomas MacDonagh.Tomás de Bhaldraithe
Tomás de Bhaldraithe (14 December 1916 – 24 April 1996) was an Irish language scholar and lexicographer born Thomas MacDonagh Waldron in Limerick. He is best known for his English-Irish Dictionary, published in 1959.
|Signatories of the Proclamation of the Republic|
(executed after the Rising)
|Also executed for their role in the Rising|
|Other Irish figures|