Skip to main content

Kathleen Daly Clarke papers and collection of Thomas Clarke and Irish political materials

Collection MS-2001-007: Kathleen Daly Clarke papers and collection of Thomas Clarke and Irish political materials


  • Creation: 1897-1972, undated

Scope and Contents

This collection contains Kathleen Daly Clarke's personal and professional papers as well as her collection of materials about her husband Thomas Clarke and Irish politics during the early- to mid-1900s. Clarke's personal papers contain correspondence, photographs, artwork, ephemera, and clippings. Of note are cards she received from political figures, including Eamon de Valera, Douglas Hyde, and Sean Ó Ceallaigh, some of which were printed by Cuala Press and Three Candles Press. Her collection on Thomas Clarke and Irish politics include artifacts, ephemera, and photographs. A significant portion of the materials are publications and ephemera circulated by Irish political groups, including Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail.


Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research.

Restrictions on use

These materials are made available for use in research, teaching and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. The original authors may retain copyright to the materials.

Biographical Note: Kathleen Daly Clarke

Kathleen Daly was born in Limerick in 1878 into a republican family. Her father had been arrested for Fenian activities and her uncle, John Daly, sentenced to life imprisonment. In 1901, she moved to New York to marry Thomas Clarke, who had previously been incarcerated with her uncle. Together they ran a small farm and market before returning to Ireland in 1907.

Kathleen Clarke was a founding member of Cumman na mBan in 1914. During the Easter Rising, she was arrested and afterwards, her husband and brother were court-martialed and executed. She formed the Committee of the Irish Volunteer Dependents Fund to aid dependents of imprisoned and executed volunteers.

In 1918, she was elected vice-president of Cumman na mBan as well as the Executive of Sinn Fein. She campaigned against conscription and was arrested for treasonable conspiracy. Along with Constance de Markievicz, Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington, and Maud Gonne, Clarke spent nine months in Halloway Prison in England.

In 1919, Clarke was elected alderman of Wood Quay and Mountjoy wards. She was also a judge, chaired the north city republican courts, and was active in the Irish White Cross. She was elected to the second Dail in 1921 and opposed the Anglo-Irish Treaty. Clarke lost her seat in 1922, regained it in 1927 and lost it again in 1928. She left Sinn Fein and joined Fianna Fail in 1926.

From 1927 to 1936, Clarke served as a Fianna Fail Senator; however, she disagreed with Fianna Fail policies that she thought contradicted provisions concerning women in the 1916 proclamation. Clarke was elected the first female Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1939. She disagreed with Eamonn de Valera and Fianna Fail over treatment of republican prisoners during the 1940s. At the end of her mayoral term, Clarke retired from Fianna Fail. Later, she ran unsuccessfully on the Clann na Poblachta ticket. On the 50th anniversary of the Rising, Clarke received an honorary degree from the National University of Ireland. In 1967, she opened a Fenian Exhibition in Kilmainham Jail in Dublin.

She died in Liverpool in 1972 and was given a state funeral in Dublin.


Luddy, Maria. "Clarke [née Daly], Kathleen (1878–1972), political activist." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 23 Sep. 2004; Accessed 14 Aug. 2020.

Biographical Note: Thomas Clarke

Thomas Clarke was born in 1857 on the Isle of Wight. His father was in the British Army. The Clarkes emigrated to South Africa and stayed there for about 10 years before moving to Dungannon, County Tyrone, Ireland. Clarke stayed in Dungannon until moving to the United States in 1880.

In the United States, Clarke joined Clan na Gael, the American wing of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB). In 1883, Clarke and Thomas Gallagher were sent to England on a dynamiting mission. Both were arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment for treason. Clarke served fifteen years in English prisons and was released in 1898. Clarke returned to Ireland, was made a freeman of the city of Limerick, but was unable to find work and returned to the United States in 1899. He resumed his activities with Clan na Gael, working on the Gaelic American. In 1901, he married Kathleen Daly. They returned to Ireland in 1907 and established a newspaper and tobacconist shop in Dublin.

In Dublin, Clarke worked to reorganize the Irish Republican Brotherhood. He was elected to the Supreme Council of the IRB in 1913 and argued for a Military Council to plan an armed insurrection. In 1911, Clarke organized the first national pilgrimage to Wolfe Tone’s grave in Bodestowne, County Kildare. In September 1915, Clarke and Sean MacDiarmada were admitted into the IRB’s secret Military Council, joining Patrick Pearse, Joseph Mary Plunkett, Eamonn Ceannt, and later, James Connolly. Clarke presided over the meeting that decided to proceed with the Easter Rising.

As the oldest member of the Provisional Government and a Fenian, Clarke was the first signatory of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic. He fought in the General Post Office (GPO) during Easter week and was court-martialed on May 1, 1916. He was executed by firing squad on May 3, 1916.


Hopkinson, Michael. "Clarke, Thomas James [Tom] (1858–1916), Fenian organizer." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 23 Sep. 2004; Accessed 14 Aug. 2020.


8.5 Linear Feet (10 containers)

Language of Materials



The collection contains the personal and professional papers of Kathleen Daly Clarke (1878-1972), a founding member of Cumann na mBan and an Irish politician, as well as her collection of materials about her husband Thomas Clarke and Irish politics in the first half of the twentieth century. Materials include correspondence, photographs, artwork, clippings, and publications and ephemera circulated by Irish political groups, including Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail.


Arranged in three series: I. Kathleen Daly Clarke papers; II. Irish political materials; and III. Thomas Clarke materials.

Series I is arranged in two subseries: A. Personal, and B. Professional.

Series II is arranged in two subseries: A. Ephemera, and B. Visual materials.

Series III is arranged in two subseries: A. Ephemera and artifacts, and B. Photographs.


Purchased from Emerald Isle Books in 2001. Additional materials purchased from Adam's Auctioneers of Dublin in 2020.

Separated Materials

Published works associated with this collection have been transferred within the Burns Library and can be found in the Boston College Library catalog.

Kathleen Daly Clarke Papers and Collection of Thomas Clarke and Irish Political Materials
1897-1972, undated
Ely Janis, David Horn, and AnneMarie Anderson, 2002; Elizabeth Peters, 2022
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2022 December: Added accrual MS-2020-005.

Repository Details

Part of the John J. Burns Library Repository

John J. Burns Library
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill MA 02467 United States