One of the most beautiful things about travel is the opportunity to see great art. Our recent journey through England, Scotland, and Ireland took us to many world class museums, and I was thrilled to see many of my favorite paintings that until then I had only admired in books. One painting, previously unknown to me, stands out because it is in neither a museum nor a gallery but instead is a testament to the artistic spirit in the most difficult of circumstances
During Easter week of 1916, Irish Republicans revolted against British rule. One of those arrested during the rebellion was a young man named Joseph Plunkett. He was taken to Kilmainham Gaol where he was sentenced to death along with 15 other leaders. On May 3, 1916 he was allowed to marry his fiancé, Grace Gifford in the prison chapel. She quickly bought a ring and married him with only one witness present. The newlyweds were allowed only ten minutes together, holding each other and crying while a guard stood nearby with a stopwatch. Joseph Mary Plunkett was executed the next morning.
Grace never remarried. She had a difficult life. She was an artist who had studied at Dublin Metropolitan School of Art and supported herself through her art. In Februrary 1923, she also was arrested and sent to Kilmainham Gaol where she was imprisoned until May 1923. While there, Grace painted the Virgin Mary and Jesus on her prison wall. It is directly in line with the guard peep hole to her cell.
Grace and Joseph were both artists. She painted and he had helped establish the Irish National Theater. In 1985, Frank and Sean O’Meara wrote a song about Grace and Joseph Mary Plunkett. “Grace”
I am an artist who specializes in watercolors. I also love to travel and find inspiration in those special places and with the interesting people I meet along the way.