Thomas MacDonagh last letter to his family

Thomas wrote this letter to his family the night before his execution.

Midnight, Tuesday 2nd May, 1916

I Thomas MacDonagh, having now heard the sentence of the Court Martial held on me today, declare that in all my acts – all the acts for which I have been arraigned – I have been actuated by one motive only, The love of my country, the desire to make her a sovereign independent state, I still hope and pray that my acts may have for consummation her lasting freedom and happiness.

I am to die at dawn, 3:30 a.m., 3rd. May. I am ready to die, and thank God that I die in so holy a cause. My country will reward my dust richly.

On April 30th. I was astonished to receive by a messenger from P.H. Pearse, Commandant General of the Army of the Irish Republic, an order to surrender unconditionally to the British General. I did not obey the order as it came from a prisoner. I as then in supreme command of the Irish Army, consulted with my second in command and decided to confirm the order. I knew that it would involve my death and the deaths of other leaders. I hoped that it would save many true men among our followers, good lives for Ireland. God grant it has done so and God approve our deed. For my self I have no regret. The one bitterness that death has for me is the separation it brings from my beloved wife Muriel, and my beloved children, Donagh and Barbara. My country will then treat them as wards, I hope. I have devoted myself too much to National work and too little to the making of money to leave them a competence. God help them and support them, and give them a happy and prosperous life. Never was there a better, truer, purer woman then my wife Muriel, or more adorable children than Don and Barbara. It breaks my heart that I shall never se my children again, but I have not wept or murmured. I counted the cost of this and am ready to pay it. Muriel has been sent for here. I do not know if she can come. She may have no one to take the children while she is coming. If she does –

My money affairs are in a bad way. I am insured for £200 in the New York Life Co. but have borrowed £ 101, I think. I am insured for £100 in the Alliance Co., but have a bank debt for £80. That brings less than £120 from these sources, if they produce anything. In addition I have insured my two children for £100 each in Mutual Co. of Australasia, payment of premiums to cease at my death the money to be paid to the children at the age of twenty one. I ask my brother Joseph MacDonagh and my good and constant friend David Houston to help my poor wife in these matters. My brother Joe, who came with me and stood by me all last week has been sent away from here, I do not know where to. He, if he can, will help my family too. God bless him and my other sisters and bothers.

Assistance has been guaranteed from funds in the hands of Cumann na mBan and other funds to be collected in America by our fellow countrymen there in provision for the dependents of those who fall in the fight. I appeal without shame to the persons who control these funds to assist my family. My wife and I have given all for Ireland.

I ask my friend David Houston to see Mr. W.G. Lyon, publisher of my latest book, Literature in Ireland, and see that its publication may be useful for my wife and family. If Joseph Plunkett survives me and is a free man I make him, with my wife, my literary executor. Otherwise my wife and David Houston will take charge of my writings. For the first time I pray that they may bring in some profit at last. My wife will want money from every source.

Yesterday at my Court Martial in rebutting some trifling evidence, I made a statement as to the negotiations for surrender with General Lowe. On hearing it read after, it struck me that it might sound like an appeal. It was not such. I make no appeal, no recantation, no apology, for my acts. In what I said I merely claimed that I act honourably and thoroughly in all that I set myself to do. My enemies have, in return, treated my in an unworthy manner. But that can pass. It is a great and glorious thing to die for Ireland and I can well forget all petty annoyances in the splendour of this. When my son, Don, was born I thought that to him and not to me would this be given. God has been kinder than I hoped. My son will have a great name.

To my son Don. My darling little boy remember me kindly. Take my hope and purpose with my deed. For your sake and for the sake of your beloved mother and sister I would wish to live long, but you will recognise the thing I have done and see this as a consequence. I still think I have done a great thing for Ireland, and, with the defeat of her enemy, won the first step of her freedom. God Bless you, my son.

My darling daughter, Barbara, God bless you. I loved you more than ever a child has been loved.

My dearest love, Muriel, thank you a million times for all that you have been to me. I have only one trouble in leaving life – leaving you so. Be sure , Darling, God will assist and bless you. Goodbye. Kiss my darlings for me. I send you the few things I have saved out of this war. Goodbye my love, till we meet in heaven. I have a sure faith in our union there. I kiss this paper that goes to you.

I have just heard that they have not been able to reach you. Perhaps it is better so. Yet Father Aloysious is going to make another effort to do something. God help and sustain you, my love. But for your suffering this would be all joy and glory

Your loving husband

Thomas MacDonagh

I return the darlings’ photographs

Good bye my love.