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Kathleen Clarke Memoirs,


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In Collection: Kathleen Clarke Memoirs, 1897-1967.
Description: Manuscript and typescript drafts of the memoirs of republican Kathleen Clarke (née Daly), in which she recalls her early life in Limerick, the Fenian tradition within her family, her meeting and later marriage to veteran Fenian Tom Clarke, his participation in the Easter Rising, his subsquent execution, her own imprisonment in Holloway Jail and her political career with Sinn Féin and later Fianna Fáil. Contains both notebooks and typescript sheets.

The collection includes some additional papers written and compiled by Clarke, notably newscuttings, ephemera and correspondence dating from the Easter Rising and War of Independence (including copy letters from Constance Markievicz to Clarke written during her imprisonment in Cork Jail), letters from Fianna Fáil party activists relating to her opposition to the 1937 Constitution and her correspondence with Eamon de Valera, John A. Costello and Sean Lemass on the plans to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising.

Kathleen Clarke (née Daly) was born in Limerick 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 were 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 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.
Main Creator: Clarke, Kathleen, 1878-1972
Language: English
Extent: 4 boxes.
Call Number: MS 49,883/1-43 (Manuscripts Reading Room)
Rights: Subject to the provisions of the Copyright Act 2000, this collection remains in copyright. It is necessary to obtain the express permission of the copyright owner before reproducing any material from this collection.