Thomas McDonagh (Artist Phyl Larkin, Kilkenny)
Thomas McDonagh is best known as one of the leaders of the Easter Rising of 1916 and is the only Tipperary signatory of the Proclamation of the provisional Government. His parents, Joseph McDonagh and Mary Louise Parker, came to Cloughjordan in 1877 as the first teachers in the newly opened catholic school. They arrived, with their daughters Mary and Eleanor, from Cloghan, Co. Offaly. Thomas (born on Feb. 1st 1878) and his brothers John, Joseph and Jim were born in Cloughjordan.
Thomas was sent to Rockwell College in 1894, where he remained on as a trainee teacher intending to join the Order of the Holy Ghost Congregation. Finding he did not have a vocation, he moved to a post, teaching English and French at St. Kieran’s College, Kilkenny. While here he became deeply involved in the Gaelic League. At this time he published his first collection of poetry Through the Ivory Gate.
Thomas McDonagh joined the Gaelic League at the end of 1901 and was co-opted onto the committee on April 28th 1902.
Minutes of 27th October 1902 – written by Thomas McDonagh
He refused to let his name go forward for re-election at the A.G.M. of June Ist 1903 because of a dispute with Aldermen Nolan and McSweeny over their voting for a non-Gaelic Leaguer against a member for a job vacancy. http://conradhcillchainnigh.org/minute-booksna-miontuairisci/agm-of-1903-thomas-mac-donagh-resigns/ During his short association with the organisation he made a tremendous impression on all and on his departure the following motion was proposed and passed unanimously.
“That we regret that circumstances unconnected with the Gaelic League compelled Mr. McDonagh to refuse re-election on our committee, and in parting with him as one of the secretaries of our branch and member of our committee for the past year we desire to leave on record on the minutes of ‘this branch our opinion of his character and worth as a sterling Irishman devoted heart and soul to the loftiest ideals of the Gaelic League, unselfish in his motives, kind, tactful and gentlemanly in his action towards all and absolutely fearless in the discharge of the duties which his position as secretary or committee-man imposed on him and we assure him that he carries with him in his retirement the deep respect and hearty good wishes of every member of this committee”
McDonagh maintained friendship with the people he had met during his short sojourn in Kilkenny. In a letter to Tim Hanrahan of July 8th 1909, enclosed in a letter from Pearse seeking funds for St. Enda’s School he wrote:
“Well, once more I must say I send you this with a perfect confidence of mutual understanding – just as I might ask you to go for a walk – you would do so if you at all could, if not, not and there’s an end – with best wishes to Mrs. OH – Mise do chara i gcomnuidhe. T.McD.”
The meeting room of Conradh na GAEILGE in Rothe House, Kilkenny is called the McDonagh Room.
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