Thomas James Clarke (1857-1916)
Born in Hurst Castle on the Isle of Wight, 11 March 1857, Clarke’s father, a Galway man, was a sergeant in the British army. When Tom was ten years of age his family moved to Dungannon in Co. Tyrone. Tom left for America in 1880 where he joined Clan na Gael. In 1883 he arrived in England as “Henry Hammond Wilson” just at the beginning of the IRB bombing campaign. He was arrested in possession of explosives and received a life sentence. He and his comrades suffered severe hardships in prison. He was released after 15 years in 1898, and later he settled back in America where he married Kathleen, the niece of his old cellmate John Daly, in July 1901.
He returned to Dublin in 1907, opened a couple of newsagents, and set about reorganizing the IRB with Se´n MacDiarmada. Clarke held the post of Treasurer to the IRB and was a member of the Supreme Council from 1915. In July of 1915 Clarke organized the funeral of O’Donovan Rossa. As the oldest and most respected member of the Military Council, Clarke was given the honour of signing the Proclamation first. He was executed on 3 May 1916.