Skip to Main Content

Thomas MacDonagh Collection: Home

About the Collection

Collection Ref.:            IE BL/PP/TMD
Title:                           Thomas MacDonagh Collection
Dates:                           1903 - 1915
Level of description:    Item
Extent:                          27 items
Administrative History:
BL/P/TMD is Thomas MacDonagh material deposited in the Boole Library, University College Cork, Ireland, in February 2002 by Dr. Denis Wilson, a cousin of Fr. Thomas Wilson to whom MacSuibhne had given the collection.
Biographical History:
Thomas MacDonagh (1878–1916), teacher, writer, and republican revolutionary, was born 1 February 1878 in Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary. As one of the leaders of the failed 1916 Easter Rising he was convicted, sentenced to death, and shot by firing squad in Kilmainham gaol on 3 May 1916, with Pádraig Pearse and Thomas Clarke, the first three of the insurrection leaders to face execution.


This collection is divided into two sections. The first being tss copies of letters written by the Irish patriot Thomas MacDonagh (1878-1916) to his fellow teacher and Gaelic League activist Padraig MacSuibhne of Fermoy, Co. Cork.  The second contains MacDonagh’s final address to his court marital (a mss copy) titled the “Last and Inspiring Address of Thomas MacDonagh”, allegedly as delivered by him in response to the sentence of death imposed by military court martial. However this does not appear to form part of the official court martial record preserved in The National Archives at Kew no. WO/71/346.  Preserved here also is a tss ‘The Life and Times of Dr. Creagh, Bishop of Cork and Cloyne (1580 –1603)’, authorship unknown.

The letters deal mainly with MacDonagh’s activities within the Gaelic League and his career as an educationalist. There are few references to his politics, but his nationalist sympathises are detectable. No replies from MacSuibhne are extant. The early letters in particular give a vivid insight into the local organisation of the Gaelic League and some of the ongoing power plays both on a local and a national level. Throughout his career as a teacher he is reliant on the influence of MacSuibhne and other sympathetic colleagues to help secure positions both for himself and other activists. MacDonagh’s letters reflect the system of patronage in operation at that time regarding government appointments.

In a number of letters (BL/P/TMD/12) he mentions his work at St. Enda’s the school found by Patrick (Pádraig) Pearse, declaring at one point “ we are now at last succeeding beyound our hopes in our objects, in turning out Irish speaking nationalists” (BL/P/TMD/23). He frequently refers to his own literary works, his poem, plays and books. He valued MacSuibhne’s opinion and often asks for his thoughts on literary matters. In one of the last letter preserved in this series he describes his happiness at the birth of his son Donnchadh and the career he feels is ahead of him within the Irish University sector (BL/P/TMD/24).

Access & Use

Access: Apply via online Request Form during the opening times of Special Collections and Archives


Finding Aid: Descriptive List (see separate tab above, next to 'Home' tab)

Additional Collection Information

Language: English

Copyright: UCC Library

Collection Image

   Letters from MacDonagh to Pádraig Mac Suibhne