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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Members of the First Dáil - Count Plunkett

Count George Noble Plunkett

BORN GEORGE Noble in Dublin and made a Papal count as a young man, he was the father of executed 1916 leader, Joseph Mary Plunkett. He was elected to the House of Commons on an abstentionist ticket at a by-election in Roscommon North in February, 1917.

Plunkett spent much of his early adult years abroad studying in Nice and Italy. He was made a Papal count in 1877 mainly in recognition of building work done for the Papacy.

He was curator of the National Museum from 1907-1916 but his interest in politics came from his sons, Joseph, George and John. The execution of Joseph in 1916 radicalised Plunkett and he was sworn in as a member of the IRB. He stood in a by-election in 1917, representing a broad front of nationalist organisations but allegedly had to be persuaded not to take his seat at Westminster.

Elected again in 1918, he was appointed minister for foreign affairs at the first meeting of the Dáil but his influence declined once de Valera and Griffith took control of political developments and he was eased out of the cabinet.

He was anti-Treaty during the Civil War and retained his seat as an abstentionist Republican. He did not join Fianna Fáil when de Valera broke with Sinn Féin in 1926. He stood for Sinn Féin in the first election of 1927 but lost his seat.

In a 1936 by-election in the Galway constituency, Plunkett ran as a joint Cumann Poblachta na hÉireann/Sinn Féin candidate. Losing his deposit, he polled 2,696 votes (a 2.1% share). In 1938, he was one of the former members of the Second Dáil that assigned a claimed residual sovereign power to the IRA, a process known as Irish republican legitimatism.

He was married to Mary Josephine Cranny and they had seven children. He died at the age of 96 in Ireland.

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