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Help: Who wrote 'Grace'?

03 Oct 01 - 05:29 PM (#564466)
Subject: Who wrote 'Grace'?
From: Big Tim

Who wrote "Grace": the song about Joseph Plunkett, executed in Dublin for his part in the Easter Rising of 1916, and his marriage to Grace Gifford, two hours before the execution. Until recently I had more or less dismissed this song as a maudlin Republican ballad. However, having heard the version by the The Irish Tenors, I wonder if I have perhaps I have been too hasty. Anyway, who wrote it, when, and who was he or she?

Click for related thread

03 Oct 01 - 05:31 PM (#564469)
Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote 'Grace'?
From: wysiwyg

It's on Seamus Kennedy's new CD, and if it's the same version, Plunkett is said to have written it to Grace, himself.


03 Oct 01 - 05:34 PM (#564473)
Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote 'Grace'?
From: Big Tim

Susan: that was quick! "Plunkett is said to have written it" - did he? I hope so, it would give the lyrics real meaning, feeling, poignancy, etc, and let me drop the "maudlin".

03 Oct 01 - 05:42 PM (#564480)
Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote 'Grace'?
From: MartinRyan

Definitely not Plunkett, I'm afraid - he was too good a poet! (just joking) I thinkwe checked it our lately as a Pete St. John song. I'll check.


03 Oct 01 - 05:45 PM (#564484)
Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote 'Grace'?
From: GUEST,Ducksy

it was written by two brothers from Galway.I Forget their name

03 Oct 01 - 05:54 PM (#564491)
Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote 'Grace'?
From: MartinRyan


It wasn't Pete St. John anyway! Here's Pete's full list to date.

Sorry about that.


03 Oct 01 - 05:57 PM (#564494)
Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote 'Grace'?
From: wysiwyg

Ah, I shot from the lip with CRS.

Seamus has the poem by Plunkett AND the song on his CD, with the song attributed to Frank and Sean O'Meara, (Bardsmusic, USA)

GRACE is in the DT of course, HERE.

And the poem is posted HERE.

Seamus credits Russel Vance, Erie PA (USA) Irish Cultural Society, for help with research.


03 Oct 01 - 06:06 PM (#564498)
Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote 'Grace'?
From: MartinRyan

Yeah, - Jed Marum has the same two names HERE . Wonder when it was written?

I know there was a contemporary ballad "On the Marriage of Jospeh Plunkett and Grace Gifford", but assume its a different song.


03 Oct 01 - 06:12 PM (#564500)
Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote 'Grace'?
From: MartinRyan

Written in 1985 - see Here for a letter from one of the authors.


03 Oct 01 - 06:28 PM (#564507)
Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote 'Grace'?
From: Joe Offer

There's another thread on the song here (click). It was established fairly well that the song was written by Frank & Sean O'Meara, copyright Asdee Music Ltd., but we hadn't found a copyright date. I see above that Martin Ryan was able to pin it at 1985.
-Joe Offer-

03 Oct 01 - 06:39 PM (#564515)
Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote 'Grace'?
From: MartinRyan


Not earlier than 1985 anyway! See above - the letter is buried in that site, due to the frames structure. I've no reason to doubt it's genuine.


p.s. I'm interested in the contemporary ballad - a copy of which is, I believe, in the Irish Traditional Music Archive.

03 Oct 01 - 06:53 PM (#564520)
Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote 'Grace'?
From: wysiwyg

Here's the letter... Joe, I leave it to you to decide whether to add this to any of the other threads.



Letter from Sean O'Meara, co-author of the ballad "Grace"

(posted on the Irish Folk Song Lyrics Archive Message Board)

The story behind 'Grace' is a true one based on actual events of the 2nd May 1916. Grace Gifford and Joseph Mary Plunkett got married in the Chapel in Kilmainham Jail just a few hours before he was executed for his part in the 1916 Rising. This was a move against British Rule in Ireland at the time....April 1916.

Grace lived near Ranelagh in the south-central part of Dublin and was a modern young lady, very well educated and particularly talented in the areas of sketches, cartoons and caricatures. Much of her work was published. Additionally she was excellent at creating tapestries and the like.

Joseph Mary Plunkett was a scholar and a poet and mixed in the same social circles as Grace Gifford. Their individual creativity would have brought them closer and their lives would have been full, interesting and energetic. His poem 'Blood Upon The Rose' is legendary.

At that time, a low-key move against British Rule was gathering some momentum and this was led by Padraig Pearse, a teacher, scholar and poet. Joseph would have know Padraig well and so would easily slip into the 'movement', albeit reluctantly, it is said. Grace would have encouraged him not to become 'involved' rather work hard and together at their careers.

But Padraig had a spellbinding effect on some people and Joseph actually did leave his sick bed to join in the rising. This, of course, failed and the leaders were arrested and put into Kilmainham Jail, on the western side of Dublin. Quickly they were sentenced to death and executed by firing squad during the first half of May 1916.

Grace Plunkett, as she became, never married again. She died in Dublin in 1955. The song 'Grace' was written in 1985 by brothers Frank and Sean O'Meara.

Sean O'Meara

15th September, 1999

Good idea to post this, Susan. I crosslinked this thread to the other one, rather than posting the letter in two places.
-Joe Offer-

04 Oct 01 - 02:03 AM (#564741)
Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote 'Grace'?
From: Big Tim

Thanks for all the info folks. My wife (who isn't Irish and had never heard the song before) is just back from a trip to Ireland and informs me that the song is currently on everyone's lips there. Has someone had a recent hit with it?

08 Jul 08 - 10:19 AM (#2383755)
Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote 'Grace'?

it was wrote by frank and sean o meara

08 Jul 08 - 11:18 AM (#2383801)
Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote 'Grace'?
From: goatfell

great song I think, a love song

08 Jul 08 - 11:38 PM (#2384355)
Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote 'Grace'?
From: Celtaddict

The combination of the O'Mearas' song and Plunkett's poem is often performed; there is a line in the song that quotes Plunkett's poem about 'the blood upon the rose' and if the singer goes on from that point to recite the poem (maybe with a subtle bit of guitar accompaniment) then after the end of the poem finishes the song, it can be quite effective.

30 Jul 10 - 11:39 AM (#2955182)
Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote 'Grace'?
From: open mike

I See His Blood Upon the Rose

I see his blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of his eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.

I see his face in every flower;
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but his voice—and carven by his power
Rocks are his written words.

All pathways by his feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is every tree.

here is a book about 1016 Ireland "Easter Uprising"

30 Jul 10 - 11:45 AM (#2955190)
Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote 'Grace'?
From: olddude

Seamus Kennedy ... absolutely amazing version of this song. My favorite

30 Jul 10 - 11:57 AM (#2955197)
Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote 'Grace'?
From: MMario

Jed Marum as well does an incredible version. Someday I'd like to hear them do it together....

30 Jul 10 - 05:19 PM (#2955390)
Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote 'Grace'?
From: olddude

Hey Seamus, can you do that one for us in Buffalo next month bro?

02 Nov 15 - 07:13 PM (#3748210)
Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote 'Grace'?
From: Thompson

Point of information: 4 May 1916, not 2 May.

Plunkett wrote many poems to Grace. Here's one:


On the Morning of her Christening,
April 7th, 1916

The powerful words that from my heart
Alive and throbbing leap and sing
Shall bind the dragon's jaws apart
Or bring you back a vanished spring ;
They shall unseal and seal again
The fount of wisdom's awful flow,
So this one guerdon they shall gain
That your wild beauty still they show.

The joy of Spring leaps from your eyes,
The strength of dragons in your hair.
In your young soul we still surprise
The secret wisdom flowing there ;
But never word shall speak or sing
Inadequate music where above
Your burning heart now spreads its wing
In the wild beauty of your Love.

04 Nov 15 - 05:56 AM (#3748464)
Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote 'Grace'?
From: GUEST,Desi C

No, plunkett didn't write it, but he wrote a poem, Blood upon the Rose mentioned in the song. It was written by two very talented brothers, Sean & Fran O'Meara in 1985 and was a big it for Jim McCan of Dubliners Fame who sadly passed away in March this year. Grace was Plunkett's Fiance Grace Gifford who was brought to the jail to marry Oliver shortly before his execution, Already dying from TB Plunkett was allowed the service in his tiny cell surrounded by 8 armed soldiers such was the paranoia that an escape might be staged. Grace never remarried and served Sinn Fein with distinction until her death in the 1980's. PLunkett was perhaps destined for Martrydom, being a descendent of one of Eire's grat Martyrs Blessed Oliver Plunkett. Irish Tenor Anthony Kearns for me sings the best version of the son, available on You Tube

04 Nov 15 - 10:32 AM (#3748511)
Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote 'Grace'?
From: Thompson

Mmmmup to a point, Desi C. Grace married Joe, not in his cell but in the chapel of the disused jail in Kilmainham where Joe (and also her sister Nellie, among others) was held. Grace did not serve Sinn Fein until her death; she served her country with her satiric pen during the War of Independence; afterwards she lived quietly, doing her best to make a living in a country that didn't have a lot of time for those who had won its freedom; she died in Rathmines of a heart attack in her sixties. She was a darling.

05 Nov 15 - 06:44 AM (#3748670)
Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote 'Grace'?
From: GUEST,Desi C

Thompson- Well yes the wedding started in the tiny chapel, but you should know that there was a power cut and it was concluded in the cell with soldiers holding candles. And according to Sinn Fein she was a member till she died, though yes she was rightly critical of her country

24 Jan 16 - 03:07 PM (#3767798)
Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote 'Grace'?

what a shame that all these soles died to free a country that is now importing foreigners and exporting it's own people. shame on every body in government. we got sold out to the banks

30 Mar 16 - 08:35 AM (#3782238)
Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote 'Grace'?
From: GUEST,paul fields

a great song a true balled that tells a story /// the late jim mc cann gave it a life of its own what a great singer may he rest in peace

08 Apr 16 - 05:25 AM (#3784161)
Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote 'Grace'?
From: GUEST,Desi C

It was written by Brothers Frank & SXean O'Meara. PLunket wrote a poem called Blood Upon The Rose referred to in the song, but the song itself wasn't written till the 1970's

09 Apr 16 - 03:08 AM (#3784327)
Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote 'Grace'?
From: Thompson

Desi C, do you have a citation for the marriage being concluded in the cell?

It wasn't that there was a power cut, but that Kilmainham had been disused for years, and the power simply wasn't on.


Here's another of Joseph Plunkett's poems, a Pre-Raphaelite gem - despite the name, not written to Grace Gifford but to Columba O'Carroll, an earlier flame:

My Lady has the Grace of Death

My lady has the grace of Death
Whose charity is quick to save,
Her heart is broad as heaven's breath,
Deep as the grave.

She found me fainting by the way
And fed me from her babeless breast
Then played with me as children play,
Rocked me to rest.

When soon I rose and cried to heaven
Moaning for sins I could not weep,
She told me of her sorrows seven
Kissed me to sleep.

And when the morn rose bright and ruddy
And sweet birds sang on the branch above
She took my sword from her side all bloody
And died for love.

18 Nov 18 - 10:44 AM (#3962197)
Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote 'Grace'?
From: GUEST,Brendan Phelan (Dublin).

Frank and Sean O' Meara (Brothers), wrote this song about 17 years ago.

18 Nov 18 - 05:23 PM (#3962231)
Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote 'Grace'?
From: Amos

Kilmainham prison is a grim, dank and stony pile of cold shadows and cramped spaces. The recitation of Plunkett and Grace's history there given by the docents who show the trippers through brings tears to their eyes, and shivers to their buttocks; the brutality of conquest and oppression looms close and chills the shadows in the back of every cell.

Highly recommended. ;)

19 Nov 18 - 04:20 AM (#3962279)
Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote 'Grace'?
From: Thompson

There were candles not because of a “power cut” but because the jail had been disused for years. Grace and Joseph Plunkett were then allowed to spend ten minutes together - but not to touch each other - guarded by soldiers with loaded rifles with bayonets fixed.