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Joesph Plunkett & Grace Gillford – The Easter Rising Love Story

A beautiful Irish love story that continues to live on to this day. Grace Gillford & Joesph Plunkett met each other at a time of oppression and suffering in Ireland. A determined love that kindled a light of hope for two young lovers that has lived on through the years. Their passionate, authentic love for one another was shared in justice and their Catholic faith.

Grace was born to a protestant mother and Catholic father. She was reared protestant, however, she developed a love for the Catholic faith and began her Journey into the Church – with the help of Joseph. She was an artist and an exceptional cartoonist who went on to use her talent for political publications of Ireland and UK separation. She was spirited and passionate about Irelands independence from the UK.

Joesph Plunkett was born into a wealthy family. Like Grace he had a wholehearted faith and he was gifted in many ways. He was a nationalist and was heavily involved with the armed revolution that led to the 1916 Easter Rising. He was from a wealthy background and was reared abroad. He went to a prestigious Jesuit Catholic school in England and developed a strong faith through his love and dedication. He is famously known for his passion for writing poetry and his work as an editor with the Irish Review. Joseph appeared to have everything going for him – love, faith and extraordinary talents but his ill health plagued him from his early years, often leaving him bed bound or in hospital.

The couple met through Graces brother in law, Thomas MacDonagh, who was part of the volunteers for the Easter Rising and would eventually become one of the leaders. Grace and Joseph immediately hit it off and it is recorded that they found much shared interest in the Catholic faith, she was thinking of converting and he helped her understand the faith better. The pair was destined to be united and their shared interests fueled their love for each other.

They got engaged and were due to get married in a double wedding with Josephs sister. His ill health caused a stir with her parents and they did not want her to marry a man with an uncertain future. The plan for their happy union was interrupted by Josephs involvement as a military strategist of the 1916 Easter Rising. Joseph and fifteen of his fellow fighting Irish men were arrested for their part in the 1916 rising. They were sentenced to death by a bullet which would take place the following day. Joseph requested that he marry his beautiful love before his sentence to death. Grace rushed to buy a wedding ring and found a priest who was willing to marry them. She hurried to the prison, where she and the priest convinced the officers to allow her to marry the love of her life. They married in a small chapel in the prison and Joseph walked up the aisle in handcuffs. The handcuffs were removed, but neither of them was allowed to touch or speak other than their vows. He was executed the next day. Joseph was quoted as saying ''I am happy I am dying for the Glory of God and the honour of Ireland''.

A tragic end to one of the best Irish love stories ever told by two passionate good souls. The tragedy did not end with the death of Joseph but rather it was the start of Graces sorrow. Joseph left everything to his bride in his will – something his parents decided not to honour. Her sister was a widow of Thomas MacDonagh who was executed for his involvement in the 1916 rising. Her sister died suddenly and tragically while swimming in 1917 leaving Grace to share the responsibility of raising her children until 1919. She remained a dedicated Catholic and fought the good fight for Ireland but her heartache continued as her family had disowned her for her nationalist spirit. She was arrested in 1923 for her part and involvement with the anti-treaty side. She spent three months in prison where she famously drew the cartoon of the Madonna & child on the walls of her cell. She struggled financially and scraped by using her talents as a cartoonist. She fought hard to receive her pension which she eventually received. Her health began to decline in the 1940's and she eventually died in her apartment in 1955 at the age of 67. She outlived the love of her life by 39 years and never remarried. Her funeral had full military honour and the president of Ireland Sean O' Kelly attended her funeral. Her story lives on befittingly through a beautiful Irish song called ''Grace'' which describes the love between Grace & her husband Joe.






Listen to the song 'Grace' below.