Before execution, he asked his wife Kathleen to give this message.
Message to the Irish People, 3 May 1916.
‘I and my fellow signatories believe we have struck the first successful blow for Irish freedom. The next blow, which we have no doubt Ireland will strike, will win through. In this belief, we die happy.’
TOM CLARKE’S SHOP TODAY
Tom Clarke had a tobacconists shop near the top of Parnell Street at the junction of O’Connell and my own maternal grandfather Martin O’Connor had a pub on the same street.
Tom would pop in after work for a drink and by all accounts was a lovely man but a fanatical Irish republican. My more famous grandfather Thomas FitzPatrick, latterly described as ‘The Cartoon Wing of the Nationalist Movement’ (Frank McNally in the Irish Times), was himself a Fenian and of course knew many of those later executed and imprisoned. I do not know if he also knew Clarke but it seems very very likely as he worked with the Fenian movement and later with the Irish Republican Brotherhood.
Martin O’Connor on the other hand was a simple man, a publican and a nationalist and he and his very young wife of 25 died in the Great Flu in 1910 when my mom was 10 years old but nevertheless had many memories of people like Tom Clarke as had my grandaunt who knew him well it seems. Anyway I grew up thinking this old grandaunt was my own grandmother but that’s another story.
After the Rising was defeated by the British Army and the rebels rounded up Tom, the Provisional Government President, was quite an old man at this point and tired, beaten and exhausted, was ordered by an upper-class Irish RIC police officer (named Percival Lee Wilson if I remember correctly) to strip in public in the yard of the Rotunda Hospital in front of everyone including the British officers laughing at all this –and the nurses attending the wounded.
Michael Collins, who witnessed this cruel humiliation, swore that he would one day get revenge and t years later he did just that.
According to my mother Wilson spent the last few years of his life waiting for the knock on his door and one day it came. The Irish don’t get mad, we get even.
Brief summery of Tom Clarke during the 1916 Easer Rising
From the Wiki:
Clarke was stationed at headquarters in the General Post Office during the events of Easter Week, where rebel forces were largely composed of Irish Citizen Army members under the command of Connolly. Though he held no formal military rank, Clarke was recognized by the garrison as one of the commanders, and was active throughout the week in the direction of the fight, sharing the fortunes of his comrades. Following the surrender on 29 April, Clarke was held in Kilmainham Jail until his execution by firing squad on 3 May at the age of 59. He was the second person to be executed, following Patrick Pearse.
Before execution, he asked his wife Kathleen to give this message. Message to the Irish People, 3 May 1916.
A short history of the Easter Rising:
In 1916, in a rebellion known as the Easter Rising, a small group of uniformed and organized but poorly armed Irish patriots took on the might of the British Empire and sought to end 800 years of subjugation and oppression. Although totally outnumbered, for twelve extraordinary days in May 1916, they fought the British army to a standstill until finally forced to surrender as prisoners of war. Most were promptly executed without mercy and with their executions the Irish people, who initially had rejected them as hopeless dreamers and troublemakers, were so outraged by these brutal murders that they rose in huge numbers against the British and eventually succeeded, after years of armed struggle and massive help from the Irish diaspora in America, in ejecting the British and declaring independence.