“It was a Profoundly Catholic Event” III

Plunkett and Grace memorial

Grace Evelyn Gifford Plunkett was an Irish artist and cartoonist who was active in the Republican movement, who married her fiancé Joseph Plunkett in Kilmainham Gaol only a few hours before he was executed for his part in the 1916 Easter Rising.

Her growing interest in the Roman Catholic religion led to the deepening of Gifford and Plunkett’s relationship as she began to discuss Catholic mystical ideas with him – he was from an arch-Catholic family, his father a Papal count. Plunkett proposed to her in 1915; Grace accepted and took formal instruction in Catholic doctrine. She was received into the Catholic Church in April 1916. The couple planned to marry on Easter Sunday that year, in a double wedding with her sister who was engaged to Thomas MacDonagh, another leader of the Rising. Her parents were not in favour of her marrying Plunkett, due to the precarious state of his health – he was extremely ill at this time.

After the Rising, her brother-in-law Thomas MacDonagh was shot with Padraig Pearse and Thomas Clarke by firing squad on 3rd May. The same day, Grace heard that Joseph was to be shot at dawn. She bought a ring in a jeweller’s shop in Dublin city centre and, with the help of a priest, persuaded the military authorities to allow them to marry. She and Joe were married on the night of 3rd May in the chapel of Kilmainham Gaol, a few hours before he was executed.

 

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