||Tom Clarke is a profile under management of a member of the Irish Roots Project.|
Join: Irish Roots Project
Thomas James Clarke, baptised a Catholic, was the first child born in 1857 to Irish parents, Mary Palmer, a Catholic and James Clarke, a Protestant. His father was a sergeant in the British army stationed at Hurst Castle, first built on the Isle of Wight, England, by Henry VIII modernised during the Napoleonic wars to defend the western approach to the Solent. 
The family were posted to South Africa for about six years.
The family moved to Dungannon, Co Tyrone. Thomas Clarke attended Saint Patrick’s national school. In 1878, Thomas Clarke joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood In Dungannon, influenced during a visit by the Fenian, John Daly.  In 1878, at the age of 20, he joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) following the visit to Dungannon of John Daly, and by 1880 he was centre (head) of the local IRB circle. By 1880, Tom Clarke was head of the Dungannon IRB. In 1881 he was involved in a riot with local Orange men and, with his friend Billy Kelly, fled to the United States to avoid arrest.
In the United States, he joined the Irish republican organisation, Clann na nGael, which promoted violent revolution. In 1883, on his first mission to blow up London landmarks, Thomas Clarke was picked up with dynamite in his possession. He served 15 years in British jails and was released in 1898, when he returned to Brooklyn, New York.
He married to Kathleen Daly ( John Daly's niece) in New York, settled on a small farm, 60 acres in Manville, New York. They had three children; Tom Clarke, John Daly Clarke and Emmet Clark.
In 1907, Intent on the formation of an Irish Republic, Thomas Clarke moved to Dublin, setting himself up in a tobacconist’s shop on Great Britain Street (now Parnell Square). The shop quickly became the focus of those interested in the Republican cause in New York. Detectives were permanently posted outside to take note of comings and goings. Tom Clarke was Chairman of the Wolfe Tone Memorial Committee. (rebel leader, Wolfe Tone had been executed by the British in 1798). Clarke's committee organised the first pilgrimage to Wolfe Tone's grave at Bodenstown in County Kildare, in 1911.
He did not join the Volunteers when they were formed in 1913. With previous criminal convictions, Tom Clarke kept a low proﬁle in Dublin, but was active behind the scenes in preparation for the Rising. Clarke's personality and experience helped revive a jaded local Irish Republican Brotherhood and he helped get the newspaper Irish Freedom established. He held the post of Treasurer to the Irish Republican Brotherhood where he was a member of the Supreme Council from 1915. He joined the Military Council which was planning an armed rising to take place over the Easter week of 1916.
Seniority and commitment to the cause of Irish independence gave Thomas Clarke the honour of being the first person to sign the Proclamation of Independence. He was with the group that occupied the G. P. O. in Dublin. Six days later, outnumbered and out gunned, he opposed the surrender but outvoted.
Thomas Clarke was executed by firing squad at Kilmainham Gaol on May 3rd 1916, aged 59 years.
Now buried with other leaders of the 1916 Uprising, at Arbour Hill Cemetery in Dublin.
Find A Grave: Memorial #4267
Have you taken a DNA test for genealogy? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.