Le Chéile i nGruaig which translates as together in hair is the name of a new mural that has popped up above a Burger place on the corner of Dame street and George’s street. This mural was sketched by a Rathmines artist, digitally printed and erected over night just in time for international women’s last week. The mural is of three women who were active in the 1916 rising. Countess Markieveicz, Margret Pearse and Grace Clifford.
But who are these women? We all know the stories of the men who fought in 1916 and most of us have probably heard of Countess Markieveicz and the massive role that she played in the rising. Perhaps you have heard the Wolftones song Grace and the love story of Grace Clifford Plunkett waiting at the prison wall to hear her new husband being executed but little else is known about her or the other older lady in the mural.
On the left of the mural you can see Constance Georgine Markievicz,(Countess Markievicz), probably one of the most influential Irish woman that has ever lived. Right to her is a woman many of you may not know about;
Grace Evelyn Gifford Plunkett
Grace Clifford was born on March 4 1888 to catholic solicitor Father and Protestant Mother in the fashionable suburb of Rathmines in Dublin. She studied at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art under William Orpen. Orpen saw Grace as one of his most promising students and included her in his 1907 series of paintings entitled “young Ireland”. Her talent earned her a place in the Slade School of art London, on the Fine art programme. On completion Grace returned home to Ireland where she worked as a cartoonist for the Irish review. “The Irish review” was edited by Joseph Plunkett, whom she met and fell in love with. After many discussions with Plunkett Grace decided to convert to Catholicism and the couple were due to marry on Easter Sunday 1916. Graces parents were not entirely happy about this as Joseph Plunkett was in ill health. The events that insured would change Grace’s life forever. On Easter Monday her Fiancé was one of the leaders of the rising that filled the streets of Ireland, after their surrender Plunkett was taken Kilmannan Gaol where he was sentenced to death by firing squad on the 3rd May 1916. When Grace heard news of her one true loves fate she went to the city, bought a wedding ring and with the help of priest and prison officers married Joseph Plunkett just hours before he was exhausted by the British army. Grace would never remarry.
After the events of the Rising died down the now Grace Glifford Plunkett joined Sinn Fein and dedicated her life to the cause of a free Ireland. In 1917 she was elected to the Sinn Fein executive.
In 1923 during the civil war Grace was held in Kilmainham gaol where she painted the walls of her cell with biblical images which can still be seen today. Grace never found much work with her talent and lived off a very modest income. Grace did contest Joseph’s will (which had been not honoured by the family) and won a small sum of money, she lived on Nassau street overlooking Trinity College. Grace illustrated some memorable books and newspapers; one of her most famous is W.B Yeats “The words upon the window pane” in 1930. In 1932 Mrs. Glifford Plunkett received a civil Irish pension under De Valera’s government. This substantially increased her income and meant that she could now occasionally travel to Paris to see some of her favourite artists work.
Grace died suddenly on the 13th December 1955 in her apartment on South Richmond Street, Portobello. Grace Glifford Plunkett was buried with full military honour close to her husband in the republican plot in Glasnevin cemetery.
Standing next to Grace Clifford on the far right out the Mural is;
Margret Pearse was born on the 12th February 1857 originally from Birmingham but grew up in Co. Meath. Margret Pearse is the Mother of the well-known 1916 rebel Patrick Pearse and brother William Pearse who met the same fate as Joseph Plunkett. After the deaths of both of her sons, Margret Pearse joined Sinn Fein and endorsed the candidates 1918 Westminster election.
Mrs Pearse was elected to Dail as TD for Dublin County in 1921. Along with her fellow female TD’s Margret opposed the Anglo Irish treaty.
“I rise to support the motion of our President for the rejection of the Treaty. My reasons for doing so are various, but my first reason for doing so I would like to explain here today is my son’s account. It has been said here on several occasions that Patrick Pearse would have accepted this Treaty. I deny it. As his mother I deny it, and on his account I will not accept it.'”
Margret left the Dail along with other TD’s in 1922 in protest of the treaty being passed. During the Civil War Margret stayed with Sinn Fein but in 1926 left the party to become a founding member of Fianna Fail with Eamon de Valera. Her son Patrick Pearse is seen as the spiritual figurehead of the Fianna Fail party today. Margret Died on the 22nd April 1932 and her death mask can be viewed in the national library. Her daughter also named Margret joined Fianna fail and served as a senator until her death in 1968.
Although women did play a very significant role in the 1916 rising, they can sometimes be forgotten in the history books of today. Without these three women fighting along side the men of the rebellion, their dream of Irelands independence would have never become a reality. 100 years on from the rising we now have the opportunity to change this and never let these great women’s name be lost in history.