16 Lives Thomas MacDonagh

Shane Kenna


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Thomas MacDonagh (1878-1916)
A native of Cloughjordan, Tipperary, Thomas MacDonagh was born on 1 February 1878. He received his primary education from his father – both of his parents were teachers. He went to Rockwell College in Cashel where he studied with the intention of becoming a priest but he chose to become a teacher instead. Having met Patrick Pearse on the Aran Islands he moved to Dublin to study and joined the teaching staff of St. Enda’s. Later having taken a Masters Degree in arts, he lectured in English at UCD. MacDonagh was a poet and his play When the Dawn is Come was produced at the Abbey theatre.

He was appointed director of training for the Irish Volunteers in 1914, later joining the IRB. Tom was co-opted to the Military Council only weeks before the Rising. He was commander of the Second Battalion of Volunteers that occupied Jacob’s during the Rising. Like his friend Joseph Plunkett he also edited the Irish Review and was an Irish Theatre Director. MacDonagh was often described as a wit, enthusiastic family man with never an unkind word to say about anyone. He was executed on 3 May 1916.



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