JOSEPH PLUNKETT, born in Dublin in 1887, came from a privileged background. His father, George Noble Plunkett was a count of the Papal Court.
Joseph Plunkett was educated at the Catholic University School, at Belvedere College in Dublin and at Stonyhurst College, in Lancashire, England. He studied the Irish language and the international language of Esperanto. He was one of the founders of the Irish Esperanto League.
He joined the Gaelic League in Ireland and with his friend Thomas MacDonagh, developed his interest in Irish theatre.
In 1915 Joseph Plunkett joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the Irish Volunteers, and served on the military committee. He was sent to Germany to meet with Roger Casement who was negotiating with the German government on behalf of Ireland.
Joseph Plunkett never enjoyed good health. He was hospitalised immediately before the Easter Rising and though still weak, took his place in the General Post Office, his aide de camp was Michael Collins.
Seven hours before his execution by firing squad at Kilmainham Jail, at the age of 28, he was married in the prison chapel to his sweetheart Grace Gifford. He is buried in Arbour Hill cemetery, Dublin. Grace's sister, Muriel Gifford was married Joseph's best friend Thomas MacDonagh, also executed for his role in the Easter Rising.
Joseph Plunkett's interest in Irish nationalism influenced his family, especially to his younger brothers George Oliver Plunkett and John (Jack) Plunkett who later became important IRA men. His father, George Noble Plunkett allowed the family property in Kimmage in south Dublin, to be used as a refuge and training camp for young men who wished to escape conscription in England during World War I and were instead training to fight in an Irish Brigade to fight the British for the independence of Ireland. His father's cousin, Horace Plunkett, was a Protestant and unionist who sought to reconcile unionists and nationalists. Horace Plunkett's home was burned down by the Anti-Treaty IRA during the Civil War.
The main railway station in Waterford City is named for Joseph Plunkett, as is the Joseph Plunkett Tower in Ballymun, near Dublin Airport. Plunkett barracks in the Curragh Camp, County Kildare is also named after him.
Personal reminiscences of Joe by his wife Grace, given to the Military Authorities in 1949 (in which she refers to him as Joe) can be found here: PDF download Reference BMH.WS0257 Bureau Of Military History, Defence Forces Ireland.
...I saw Joe twice that day before his execution - when we were married, and again that night. I saw him again that night, to say good-bye. I saw Pearse's letter to his mother lying on the British Governor's desk. I very nearly stole the letter; but they gave it to her alright. I did not see Pearse himself. I was allowed to stay only a short time with Joe,...
Plunkett the poet
Joe Plunkett was also a poet and several of his poems were published in two volumes. "The Circle and the Sword" was published in 1911 and the Occulta" was published posthumously.
The first poem in this list, I See His Blood Upon The Rose, gave rise to the line in the song 'Grace' which goes:
"And I'll write some words upon the wall so everyone will know
I love so much that I could see his blood upon the rose."
Grace - a song written in 1985 by Frank and Seán O'Meara, which became popular in Ireland and elsewhere and has been recorded by many musicians. (See Grace Plunkett's profile for further links to this song)
↑ "Ireland Civil Registration Indexes, 1845-1958," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FBZV-857 : accessed 24 March 2016), BIRTHS entry for Joseph Mary Plunkett; citing Dublin South, Oct - Dec 1887, vol. 2, p. 672, General Registry, Custom House, Dublin; FHL microfilm 101,061.