The Love Story of Joseph Plunkett and Grace Gifford
Like so many Irish stories, their love stories are often filled with battle and tragedy. This story follows that same path. This one, however, helped Ireland gain its freedom from Great Britain.
Joseph Plunkett was a poet and academic that was a leader in the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin. He played a strong role in the Irish Rebellion. He was a member of the Military Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood. He was officially the Director of Military Operations; however, his prominent role in helping the rebellion would be when he co-founded the Irish Review. He would use this to help further the cause of supporting nationalist causes and parties.
Grace Gifford was from an affluent Irish family. Her mother and father to avoid religious problems raised their boys as Catholics and their girls as Protestants. She would go on to become a popular cartoonist who created caricatures of public officials from that time.
Grace was introduced to the 1916 Rising through her sister, who would later marry one of the members. This was the same time that she was also being introduced to the slums that people, primarily in Dublin, where being forced to live in. Her sisters and she began working with groups to improve the lives of these people.
Grace and Joseph became friends through his devout Catholicism, and her desire to learn more about the faith. Although, she was raised as a Protestant, Grace often felt as though most of the congregation of Church of the Holy Trinity in Rathmines were there to show off their wealth instead of gain spiritual guidance. This connection would be what would lead to their love of each other.
Joe and Grace were engaged in December 1915. It is believed that they had planned on an Easter wedding in 1916. On April 7, 1916, Grace was accepted into the Catholic Church.
Joe was arrested by the English army in 1916 in the Richmond Barracks. Shortly before his execution, often believed to be one hour, on May 4, Grace and he were allowed to marry in the church’s chapel. Joe was 28-years-old when he died.
During the ceremony, Grace said, “We who never had enough time to say what we wanted to each other found that in the last ten minutes we couldn’t talk at all.” The entire visit lasted ten minutes.
Grace never remarried. It was also said that she would dress as if in mourning for the rest of her life. She would use her talents as a caricature to support the struggles for Irish independence. Joe’s two volumes of poetry, The Circle of the Sword and Occulta, were published after his death.