The song “Grace” recalls a sad but important  milestone of our history: The Easter Rising 1916.

Grace 1

Every Easter we Irish are reminded of that sad but significant chapter of our history that occurred 103 years ago, the brave young men who gave their lives for the cause of Irish freedom and the song ‘Grace’ is our nostalgic link to those historic events.

The beloved ballad, written by Frank and Seán O’Meara in 1985, depicts the life and tragic romance of Joseph Plunkett and Grace Gifford as well as Plunkett’s love for Irish Freedom, which he gave his life for.

Joseph Plunkett was an Irish nationalist, poet, journalist, revolutionary and a leader of the 1916 Easter Rising. And for just a few hours on May 4, 1916, he was Grace’s beloved husband. Joseph and Grace planned to marry on Easter Sunday in 1916 but those plans had to be put on hold when Easter Week was chosen as the date of the Rising, a rebellion planned in hopes to overthrow British rule in Ireland.

The British Army suppressed the Rising and in order to prevent the further slaughter of Dublin citizens, and in the hope of saving the lives of their followers, the members of the Provisional Government agreed to an unconditional surrender. The leaders of the Rising were taken to Kilmainham Jail in Dublin to await their fate.

Between May 3 and 14, 1916 fifteen leaders of the Rising were court-martialed by the British Army and convicted and sentenced to death by firing squad. As the executions went on, the Irish public grew increasingly hostile towards the British and sympathetic to the rebels.

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The courtyard in Kilmainham Jail where the Easter Rising leaders were executed by firing squad.

Seven hours before his execution by firing squad at the age of 28, Joseph was permitted to marry his sweetheart Grace Gifford in the chapel in Kilmainham Jail. Grace went on to live another 39 years and she never remarried.

The song and the heroes of the Easter Rising mean a great deal to many Irish and Irish Americans. Kilmainham Jail in Dublin is now a museum and a visit there and to the chapel where Grace and Joseph wed is a harrowing but inspiring experience.

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GRACE

As we gather in the chapel, here in old Kilmainham Gaol,
I think about these past few weeks, or will they say we failed?
From our school days, they have told us we must yearn for liberty
Yet all I want in this dark place is to have you here with me.

Oh Grace, just hold me in your arms and let this moment linger
They’ll take me out at dawn and I will die
With all my love, I’ll place this wedding ring upon your finger,
There won’t be time to share our love, for we must say goodbye

Now I know it’s hard for you my love to ever understand
The love I bear for these brave men, my love for this dear land
But when Padraic called me to his side, down in the G.P.O.
I had to leave my own sick bed, to him I had to go.

Oh Grace, just hold me in your arms and let this moment linger
They’ll take me out at dawn and I will die
With all my love, I’ll place this wedding ring upon your finger,
There won’t be time to share our love, for we must say goodbye

Now as the dawn is breaking, my heart is breaking too
On this May morn as I walk out, my thoughts will be of you
And I’ll write some words upon the wall so everyone will know
I loved so much that I could see His Blood Upon The Rose

Oh Grace, just hold me in your arms and let this moment linger
They’ll take me out at dawn now I must die
With all my love, I’ll place this wedding ring upon your finger,
There won’t be time to share our love, for we must say goodbye

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Click on this link to hear the famous song sung by Jim McCann:

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