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When Grace Evelyn Gifford, the sister-in-law of Tómas McDonagh, chose Easter Sunday 1916 as the date on which she was to marry Joseph "Mary" Plunkett she had no idea of the tragic events that lay ahead of them.
Days before the planned wedding, Joseph Plunkett, who suffered his entire life with severe respiratory problems, was admitted to hospital & underwent an emergency operation. On Easter Monday 1916, the day after the postponed wedding, Plunkett manned his post in The General Post Office (GPO) in Dublin to take part in The Easter Rising.
After the surrender of the rebels Joseph was arrested & imprisoned in Kilmainham Gaol. Just hours before his execution on 4th May 1916 by british firing squad, he married Grace Gifford in the small prison chapel, with two prison guards as witnesses.
Grace Gifford remained involved in the Republican Movement, especially with Sinn Fein, while earning a living as a commercial artist. She voted against the Anglo Irish Treaty & was herself imprisoned in Kilmainham Gaol for three months during the Civil War.
After the Civil War, Grace became a highly respected figure of Dublin's cultural society until her death on 13th December 1955.
Grace Evelyn Gifford was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery with full military honours.
Joseph Plunkett Entrance to Kilmainham Grace Gifford
As we gather in the chapel here in old Kilmainham Gaol
I think about these last few weeks, oh will they say we failed
From our schooldays they have told us we must yearn for liberty
Yet all I want in this dark place is to have you here with me
Oh Grace just hold me in your arms & let this moment linger
They'll take me out at dawn & I will die
With all my love I'll place this wedding ring upon your finger
There wont be time to share our love for we must say goodbye
Now I know it's hard for you my love to ever understand
The love I bear for these brave men, my love for Ireland
But when Pádraig called me to his side down in the G.P.O.
I had to leave my own sick bed, to him I had to go
Now as the dawn is breaking, my heart is breaking too
On this May morn as I walk out my thoughts will be of you
And I'll write some words upon the wall so everyone will know
I love you so much that I can see "his blood upon the rose"*
(* This phrase refers to the poem "I See His Blood Upon The Rose" which was written by Joseph Plunkett a few years before his execution.)
This is the altar of the chapel within Kilmainham Gaol where Joseph Plunkett & Grace Gifford were married.
(I took these pictures in August 1994)