Joe Clarke (Irish republican)

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Joe Clarke (Irish: Seosamh Ó Clérigh, 22 December 1882 – 1976) was an Irish republican activist.

Born in Rush, Dublin, Clarke worked for the Sinn Féin Bank, and was active in the Easter Rising. When captured, he was shot in the head, but survived, and was instead imprisoned in Liverpool Prison, Wakefield Prison and then Frongoch Internment Camp.[1]

On his return to Ireland, Clarke acted as the courier for the First Dáil,[2] but was interned from January 1921.[3] Released in 1923, he acted as caretaker of the Sinn Féin headquarters on Harcourt Street,[2] and founded the Irish Book Bureau.[1] Although the Anti-Treaty Sinn Féin rejected participation in the Dáil, they continued to contest local elections, and Clarke sat on Dublin City Council.[4]

Clarke was a founder member of Comhairle na Poblachta in 1929.[5] In 1937, he worked with Brian O'Higgins to establish the Wolfe Tone Weekly as a light-hearted party newspaper.[6] In August 1939, Clarke was interned[7] at Arbour Hill, then later at Cork County Jail.[8]

Although Clarke had served under Éamon de Valera during the Easter Rising, the two became implacable opponents. Clarke was ejected from an official commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the First Dáil for interrupting de Valera's speech in order to raise the complaints of the Dublin Housing Action Committee.[9] He vowed to outlive de Valera, he succeeded in this endeavour by outliving him a year.[10]

Clarke was elected as a Vice-President of Sinn Féin in 1966. In the split of 1970, he supported the provisional wing, remaining Vice-President.[11] The Dublin South West Inner City cumann of Sinn Féin is named for Clarke.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Sinn Féin Dublin South Central
  2. ^ a b Éamonn Mac Thomáis, Me jewel and darlin' Dublin, p.139
  3. ^ Chief Secretary's order directing that Joe Clarke be interned in Ballykinlar Camp, Co. Down, 11 Jan. 1921., Joe Clarke Papers, National Library of Ireland
  4. ^ "Sinn Féin re-enters local government contests", The United Irishman, September 1950
  5. ^ J. Bowyer Bell, The Secret Army: the IRA, p.77
  6. ^ Uinseann MacEoin, The IRA in the twilight years: 1923-1948, p.18
  7. ^ J. Bowyer Bell, The Secret Army: the IRA, p161
  8. ^ Letters from Joe Clarke, Joe Clarke Papers, National Library of Ireland
  9. ^ Mícheál Mac Donncha, "Remembering the Past: Joe Clarke ejected from First Dáil commemoration", Saoirse32, 2 April 2009
  10. ^ Robert William White, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, pp.365, 386
  11. ^ Robert William White, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, p.162
Party political offices
Preceded by
Seán Caughey
Larry Grogan
Vice-President of Sinn Féin
With: Larry Grogan (1966–1969)
Cathal Goulding (1969–1970)
Larry Grogan (1970–1971)
Dáithí Ó Conaill (1971–1972)
Succeeded by
Máire Drumm
Dáithí Ó Conaill