Anne Mc Donnell, Fine Art Printmaker
The little Design Shop, 114a Parade Quay, Waterford
This piece commemorates the love of two passionate people and one of Ireland’s greatest romances.
It relates to the marriage between Grace Gifford (artist and illustrator) and Joseph Plunkett, on the 3rd of May 1916, just hours before Plunkett was executed for his part in the 1916 Rising. They met when Grace’s friend brought her to the opening of a new bilingual school in Ranelagh, Dublin in 1913.
There was no electricity at the ceremony and so was held by candlelight. No friends or relatives were allowed to attend so two British soldiers acted as witnesses. Twenty other soldiers lined the corridors with bayonets. Once the service was over Plunkett was taken back to his cell, A few hours later Grace was allowed to see him for ten minutes. In 1949 Grace produced a witness statement
“When I saw him, on the day before his execution, I found him in exactly the same state of mind. He was so unselfish, he never thought of himself. He was not frightened, not at all, not the slightest.
I am sure he must have been worn out after the week’s experiences, but he did not show any signs of it - not in the least. He was quite calm.
I was never left alone with him, even after the marriage ceremony. I was brought in and was put in front of the altar; and he was brought down the steps; and the cuffs were taken off him.
There would be a guard there, and you could not talk. …… I was just a few moments there to get married, and then again a few minutes to say good-bye that night; and a man stood there with his watch in his hand, and said: ‘Ten minutes’”. (Source Kilmainham Tales)