One of the seven signatories of the Proclamation in 1916, he was born in Cloughjordan in 1878, son of teachers Joseph MacDonagh and Mary Louise Parker. He had two sisters and three brothers. He went to Rockwell College, Cashel, Co Tipperary in 1894 initially to train as a priest but found he did not have a vocation and became a teacher. He taught in St Kieran’s College Kilkenny (1901-1903) and in St Colman’s College in Fermoy, Co. Cork (1903-1908) before joining the staff at St. Enda’s School in Dublin in 1908. He was a member of the Gaelic League. While teaching in Dublin, he studied part time in UCD where he graduated with a B.A. in 1910 and obtained an M.A. the following year. He was appointed lecturer in English at UCD in 1911.
He produced his first volume of poetry Through the Ivory Gate in 1902. He went on to publish April and May (1903) and The Golden Joy (1906) and Songs of Myself (1910). His best known is probably Lyrical Poems published in 1913. The Poetical Works of Thomas McDonagh were published posthumously in 1916.He also wrote a number of plays as well as contributing articles to various journals of the time. He was a member of the National Literary Society and a founding member of the ASTI. He also was a founding member if Irish Review in 1911. He also helped establish the Irish Theatre in 1914 with Joseph Plunkett and Edward Martyn.
He was active in the Irish Woman’s Franchise League and a member of the Dublin Industrial Peace Committee during the 1913 Lockout. He became a member of the Irish Volunteers in 1913 and was a member of the provisional committee. He wrote ‘The Marching Song of the Irish Volunteers’. He was a member of the IRB but not on the military council until early April 1916 and is believed to have contributed to the content of the Proclamation.
He was in the Jacob’s Biscuit factory on Bishop St during the rising and was court-martialled and executed in Kilmainham on 3 May. He was survived by his wife Muriel Gifford and two children, Donagh and Barbara.
There is a permanent exhibition to the MacDonagh family at the Thomas MacDonagh Centre in Cloughjordan. The Thomas MacDonagh family papers are also available in the National Library.
The Thomas MacDonagh Centre, based in a former home of the MacDonagh Family; on Main Street, Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary.
12 - 4 pm Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday
4 - 7 pm Friday
12 - 4 pm Saturday and Sunday
Special openings for guided talks on the MacDonagh Family can be arranged for schools and interested groups.
To make a booking phone: 087 3946862
Further information is available on https://www.macdonaghmuseum.ie/