Our Archival Collections > Thomas MacDonagh Collection

NAME: Thomas MacDonagh Collection          Descriptive List       Back to list of Collections         


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Thomas MacDonagh Collection

1903 – 1915


27 items


BL/P/TMD consists mainly of 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. Included also is 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.
This material was deposited in the Boole Library in February 2002 by Dr. Denis Wilson, a cousin of Fr. Thomas Wilson to whom MacSuibhne had given the collection.


This collection is divided into two sections. The first contains the letters from MacDonagh to MacSuibhne, the second contains MacDonagh’s final address to his court marital and the tss Life of Bishop Creagh.
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 ff) he mentions his work at St. Enda’s the school found by Padraig 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: Available by appointment with the Archives Service to holders of UCC Readers tickets.

Language: English

Finding Aid: Descriptive List Click here for PDF (36KB)

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Author: Carol Quinn, Archivist, UCC Library, University College Cork

Last updated: 19 August 2014

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