Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Grace Plunkett's wedding

The report of Grace Plunkett's death in The Irish Press of December 16, 1955 describes her wedding to Joe Plunkett in Kilmainham Gaol on May 4, 1916:

The couple were married at midnight in the Prison Chapel, by Rev. Eugene McCarthy, Prison Chaplain.
The gas supply in the prison had failed and for the wedding ceremony the chapel was lighted by a single candle held by an armed British soldier.
Two soldiers moved their rifles from hand to hand when they were called upon to act as witnesses to the ceremony. The couple were separated immediately afterwards.
The newly-wedded Mrs Plunkett was taken away to lod§gings found for her by Father McCarthy, while her husband was led back to his cell. They met only once again. She was summoned to the prison on the following morning, just before his execution on May 4, 1916. Fifteen soldiers with fixed bayonets stood by while she talked to him for ten minutes.

The Irish Times of October 3, 1967 has an extract from RM Fox's 1935 book on the women of 1916, Rebel Irishwomen, including a description of Grace in jail with her elder sister, the (formerly) unionist and (always) strait-laced Katy Wilson, née Gifford. Mrs Fox paraphrases Grace's description of a search by warders:

The prisoners massed on the landing, and at 9 o'clock in the evening soldiers entered, attacking them, dragging and throwing them down the iron prison staircase from landing to landing. At the bottom, women searchers, like demons, fell on them, scratching and pulling. Mrs Wilson had her face ripped as if with an animal's claws. All night from 9pm to 7am, the struggle went on. Grace Plunkett describes it as being like a picture of hell, with screams and oaths and struggles. Women were being kicked and punched, while they packed close together and made what resistance they could...

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