Long overshadowed by fellow republicans Patrick Pearse and James Connolly, Tom Clarke was the man who made the Easter Rising possible. During an extraordinary life dedicated to Irish freedom he rose from humble origins and endured thirty years of struggle, imprisonment and exile before becoming a master conspirator in the Easter Rising. Endowed with a charisma and moral ascendancy, he held together a disparate group of followers and they, in turn, recognised his indispensable leadership by insisting that his name alone should have pride of place on the Proclamation. It was a gesture that, in a sense, guaranteed Clarke immortality, it also proved to be also his death warrant. But death held no terrors for Clarke who was to die satisfied in the belief that, with the sight of a tricolour flying over the GPO, he had changed the course of Irish history.
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