skip to main content

“We Have Struck The First Successful Blow to Freedom”

Although Kathleen Clarke had no active role in the Easter Rising, she was arrested and held prisoner in Ship Street Barracks. In the early hours of Wednesday 3 May she was taken from Ship Street and brought to Kilmainham Gaol.

The purpose of the visit was to see her husband Tom Clarke who was to be executed a few hours later. The cell she recalls was only lit by a candle in a jam pot. In the hour they had together she remembers they did not talk about the present but the future.

Before they parted Tom gave Kathleen a message for the Irish people to explain why they had chosen to fight. His words were.

We have struck the first successful blow to freedom. Freedom is coming. But between this and freedom Ireland will go through hell. But Ireland will never lie down again.

Tom Clarke, first signatory of the Proclamation was executed in Kilmainham Gaol on 3 May.

Kathleen Clarke was a member of the Central Branch, Cumann na mBan.


Kathleen Clarke was interviewed for the television series 'On Behalf of the Provisional Government', broadcast on 10 April 1966.


Abbey Theatre, An Garda Siochana, Association of Professional Genealogists Ireland, Band of An Garda Siochana, Buswells Hotel, Capuchin Friary, Century Ireland, Cobblestone, Conradh na Gaeilge, Dubray Books Grafton Street, Dublin Fire Brigade Pipe Band, Dublin Institute of Technology, Eason’s O’Connell Street, Gallery of Photography. Garda Historical Society, Generator Hostel, Glasnevin Trust, Grafton Barbers, Hodges Figgis Dawson Street, Irish Film Archive, Irish Veteran & Vintage Car Club. John Shevlin Millinery, Little Museum of Dublin, Louis Copeland & Sons, Manning's Bakery, Massey Funeral Directors, Maynooth University, Merrion Square Artists Association, National College of Art and Design, National Library of Ireland, National Museum at Collins Barracks, National Transport Museum of Ireland, NUI Galway, Poetry Ireland, Queen's University Belfast, Royal College of Physicians in Ireland, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Royal Dublin Fusiliers Association, Royal Hibernian Academy, St Michan's Church of Ireland Parish, St Michan's Roman Catholic Parish, St Vincent de Paul, SIPTU, The Four Courts, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork, University College Dublin, University of Limerick, University of Ulster, Whyte’s Irish Art & Collectables, National Print Museum, Irish Guild of Weavers Spinners & Dyers, ICA, Feltmakers Ireland, Irish Woodturners Guild, Doran Barber Shop The Pram Doctor, The Merrion Square Artists Association, The Dice Bar, Third Space, The Family Resource Centre St. Michael’s Estate, Brown Bag Films, The Stoneybatter and Smithfield People’s History Project, The Revenue Museum,

RTÉ would like to gratefully acknowledge the support and participation of the individual speakers who were kind enough to share their research and private collections with the public as part of the RTÉ Reflecting the Rising project. A big thanks also to the many volunteers and actors who gave their time so generously to help make RTÉ Reflecting the Rising a memorable and successful day.

RTÉ Commercial Enterprises Limited, Registered in Dublin, Registration Number:155076.
Registered Office: Donnybrook, Dublin 4, Ireland.