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Tom Clarke and Kathleen Clarke Papers,

1890 -1972.

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In Collection: Tom Clarke and Kathleen Clarke Papers, 1890-1972.
Description: Papers of Tom Clarke and Kathleen Clarke (née Daly). Includes their own personal letters to each other and further correspondence with family, friends and political associates in Ireland and among the Irish community in America. Among the correspondents are Daly Clarke, Edward Daly, Eamon De Valera, John Devoy, John Dillon, James Egan, James Hamilton, 2nd Duke of Abercorn, Tim Harrington, Linda McKeown, Una Moran, Blainaid Ní Carnaigh, Bríd Ní Congaile, Margaret Pearse, Padraic Pearse, John Redmond and Austin Stack. Also included is documentation relating to Tom Clarke's imprisonment in Chatham and Portland prisons, the campaign to secure his release and his subsequent political activism both in Ireland. Kathleen Clarke's political engagement in organisations such as Cumann na mBan, the Irish Volunteer Dependents Fund, Sinn Fein and Fianna Fáil and her opposition to the Anglo-Irish Treaty are also represented in the collection.

Kathleen Clarke (née Daly) was born in Limerick on 11 April 1878 to Edward and Catherine Daly and was born into a prominent Fenian family. Her father and uncle John Daly were Fenian activists. When she turned eighteen, Clarke started her own dress making business and in 1901 became the manager of a dressmaking firm in Limerick. In 1899 she met Tom Clarke after his release from Portland prison and in 1901 she left Ireland and married him in New York. While in the USA, Tom continued to be involved in Nationalist activity and Kathleen joined the Gaelic League. In 1907 the couple returned to Ireland and Clarke immersed herself in the Republican cause and in 1914 she became a founding member and President of the central branch of Cumann na mBan. Following the 1916 Easter Rising, Clarke was imprisoned for 2 days in Dublin Castle, her husband Tom and her brother Edward Daly wee executed for their involvement. Tom entrusted Clarke with £3,100 of IRB funds and she established the Volunteer Dependents Fund. In 1917 Clarke became a member of Sinn Féin and during the German Plot of 1918 she was arrested and imprisoned in Holloway Prison, alongside Maud Gonne MacBride and Constance Markievicz, for eleven months. Clarke’s political career continued as she became a a Sinn Féin TD in 1921 and in 1926 became a founder member of Fianna Fáil and resigned from Cumann na mBan. She was one of six Fianna Fáil Senators elected to the Free State Seanad. In 1930 she was elected to the re-constituted Dublin Corporation for Fianna Fáil and served as the first Fianna Fáil Lord Mayor of Dublin and as the first female Lord Mayor from 1939-1941. She clashed with her party as she opposed section 16 of the 1935 Conditions of Employment Bill, as she believed that its provisions conflicted with women’s rights, she also criticized the 1937 Constitution, leading to friction with her party. Clarke felt De Valera’s repression of the IRA during WW2 was too severe and broke with Fianna Fáil in 1941. In 1966 Clarke was awarded an honorary doctorate of law by the National University of Ireland. Clarke died at the age of 72 in a nursing home in Liverpool and received a state funeral. Thomas J. (Tom) Clarke was born in 1858 on the Isle of Wight. The family moved to South Africa and later to Dungannon, Co. Tyrone. While still in his teens he became a member of the Fenians, possibly as a reaction to his father’s role in maintaining the British empire or in response to local sectarian tensions. In 1882 Clarke emigrated to the United States, where he joined Clan na Gael. In April the following year he was sent to London on a dynamiting mission, but was betrayed by an informer and arrested in possession of explosives. Sentenced to penal servitude for life, he served fifteen years in extremely harsh conditions in British jails: Millbank, Chatham and Portland. His experiences are recalled in his memoir Glimpses of an Irish Felon’s Prison Life (1922). Following his release on ticket-of-leave in 1898, he again went to the United States where he eventually found congenial employment with the Clan na Gael leader John Devoy, including a stint as assistant editor of Devoy’s newspaper the Gaelic American. Meanwhile he married Kathleen Daly, niece of the veteran Fenian John Daly who had served time with him in jail; Kathleen was a sister of Edward (Ned) Daly, later to be executed for his part in the 1916 Rising. On the formation of the Irish Volunteers he immediately recognised their potential as an army of revolution. He joined but avoided being appointed to office. He welcomed the outbreak of the First World War, seeing England’s difficulty as Ireland’s opportunity. A member of the IRB Supreme Council, in late 1915 Clarke was co-opted to its Military Council which was responsible for planning the Rising. By virtue of his seniority and his contribution over many years, Clarke was given the honour of being the first signatory of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic. During the Rising he remained in the General Post Office with most of the other members of the Provisional Government. He opposed the surrender, but was outvoted. He was tried by court-martial. Tom Clarke was one of the first three rebels executed by firing squad at Kilmainham Jail on 3 May.
Main Creator: Clarke, Thomas James, 1858-1916
Language: English
Extent: 3 boxes.
Call Number: MS 49,351-49,357; MS 49,424-49,425; MS 49,819 (Manuscripts Reading Room)
TC 1-33 (NPA Reading Room - Appt. only)
Rights: Copyright owned by the National Library of Ireland.