Thomas J. Clarke

Life
1857-1916 [Thomas James Clarke; commonly Tom Clarke]; b. Isle of Wight, Irish parents, son of an army sargeant; family emig. S. Africa, where he remained upt to aetat. 10; settled in Dungannon, Co. Tyrone; emig. USA at 21, where he joined Clann na Gael under influence of O’Donovan Rossa; arrested in England while attempting to blow up London Bridge, 1883; received a life sentence and served 15 yrs. in Pentonville; made a Freeman of Limerick; returned to Ireland, 1898; m. Kathleen Daly, and emig. with her to USA, 1898 [she recorded his extreme silence in the home]; worked for John Devoy and Clann na Gael; returned to Dublin and estab. a tobacconist shop on the corner of Parnell St., 1907 [with N. Frederick St.]; helped organise the IRB in Dublin, then under the control of Bulmer Hobson and James McCullough;

published Irish Freedom; made his first pilgrimage to Bodenstown, 1911; estab. with others the Republican Military Council, 1915; fell out with Hobson over co-option of Redmond to Volunteers executive, 1914; increasingly associated with Sean MacDermott; with Pearse and others, occupied the GPO (Dublin) in the Easter Rising, April 1916, being the first signatory; surrendered, 29 April; misused in prison by Capt. Lee Wilson, who was subsequently assassinated in 1921; executed by firing squad, 3 May 1916 - and finished off with an officer’s bullet, having been gravely wounded by left alive by the firing-squad’s volley; his account of prison life was published in Irish Freedom 1912-13, and later in P. S. O’Hegarty, ed., Glimpses of an Irish Felon’s Life (1922), using the earlier title;

survived by his widow Kathleen, to whom he wrote: ‘I’am full of pride, my love. I am in better health and more satisfied than for many a day - all will be well eventually’ - and who subsequently became a TD in the first and second Dála [pl. of Dáil]; Clarke is the subject of Operation Easter, a play by Donal O’Kelly (2006). DIB FDA

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Criticism
  • P. S. O’Hegarty, intro., Thomas Clarke: Glimpses of an Irish Felon’s Prison Diary (Dublin: Maunsel 1922), 104pp.;
  • Louis N. Le Roux, Tom Clarke and the Irish Freedom Movement (Dublin: Talbot 1936);
  • M. J. MacManus, ed., Adventures of an Irish Bookman (Dublin: Talbot 1952), [‘In Chatham Jail’, and ‘Clarke’];
  • Oliver Snoddy, ‘Notes on Literature in Irish Dealing with the Fight for Freedom’, in Éire-Ireland, 3, 2 (Summer 1968), pp. 138-48;
  • Kathleen Clarke, Revolutionary Woman: My Fight for Ireland’s Freedom (Dublin: O’Brien 1997; rep. 1991);
  • Gerard MacAtasney, Tom Clarke: Life, Liberty, Revolution (Dublin: Merrion 2013), 306pp. [reviewed by Diarmaid Ferriter in Irish Times, 16 March 2013).

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References
Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 2, selects Glimpses of an Irish Felon’s Life [280-85]; p.286, BIOG.

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