George Noble Plunkett

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George Noble Plunkett
Count Plunkett.JPG
Minister for Foreign Affairs
In office
22 January 1919 – 26 August 1921
Preceded by New office
Succeeded by Arthur Griffith
Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann
In office
22 January 1919 – 22 January 1919
Preceded by Cathal Brugha
Succeeded by Seán T. O'Kelly
Teachta Dála
In office
December 1918 – June 1927
Constituency Leitrim–Roscommon North,
MP for Roscommon North
In office
Personal details
Born (1851-12-03)3 December 1851
Dublin, Ireland
Died 12 March 1948(1948-03-12) (aged 96)
Dublin, Ireland
Political party Sinn Féin
Spouse(s) Josephine Cranny
Children 7
Alma mater University of Dublin

George Noble Plunkett or Count Plunkett (Irish: An Cunta Pluincéad; 3 December 1851 – 12 March 1948) was a biographer and Irish nationalist, and father of Joseph Plunkett, one of the leaders of the Easter Rising of 1916.[1]

Born in Dublin, Plunkett was the son of Patrick Joseph Plunkett (1817–1918), a builder, and Elizabeth Noble (Plunkett).[2] The family income allowed Plunkett to attend school in Nice, France, Clongowes Wood College and the University of Dublin. At Dublin he studied Renaissance and medieval art among other topics, ultimately graduating in 1884.[1] Plunkett spent much time abroad and throughout Italy. In 1884 he was created a Papal Count by Pope Leo XIII for donating money and property to the Sisters of the Little Company of Mary, a Roman Catholic nursing order.[3] He was a Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre.[4]

That year he married Josephine Cranny (1858–1944) and they had seven children: Philomena (ca. 1886), Joseph (1887), Moya (Maria, ca. 1889), Geraldine (ca. 1891), George Oliver (1895), Fiona (ca. 1896) and John (Jack, ca. 1897).[5] From 1907 to 1916 he was curator of the National Museum in Dublin.[6]

Plunkett's interest in politics likely came mostly through his sons, Joseph, George and John, and though it was following the execution of Joseph that he became radicalised, it is likely that Joseph swore him into the Irish Republican Brotherhood some time before he was shot. Joseph, George and Jack were all sentenced to death following the Easter Rising, but George and Jack had their sentences commuted to 10 years penal servitude, and both were released in 1917.[7] At least two of his daughters, Philomena and Fiona, were involved in preparations for the Rising.[8] He was expelled from the Royal Dublin Society for his son's role in the Easter Rising.

In 1917, in Sinn Féin's first parliamentary victory, Plunkett won the seat of Roscommon North in a by-election. After his election, he made the decision to abstain from Westminster. He was re-elected in the 1918 general election and joined the First Dáil, in which he served briefly as Ceann Comhairle.[9] Following the Irish War of Independence, he joined the anti-treaty side, and continued to support Sinn Féin after the split with Fianna Fáil.[10] He lost his Dáil seat at the June 1927 general election.[11]

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 only 2,696 votes (2.1%).[11] 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 died at the age of 96 in Ireland.

Part of the prominent Irish Norman Plunkett family, which included Saint Oliver Plunkett (1629–1681), George's relatives included the Earls of Fingall - his great-grandfather George Plunkett (1750–1824) was "in the sixth degree removed in relationship" (fifth cousin) to the 8th Earl of Fingall - and the Barons of Dunsany, whose line had conformed to the Church of Ireland in the eighteenth century.[12] One of that line, Sir Horace Curzon Plunkett, had served as Unionist MP for South Dublin (1892–1900), but became a convinced Home Rule supporter by 1912 as an alternative to the partition of Ireland, and served as a member of the first Irish Free State Senate (1922–23).


  1. ^ a b Plunkett, George Noble
  2. ^ The Papal Count Plunkett at
  3. ^ O'Connor Lysaght, D. R. (2004) "Plunkett, George Noble, Count Plunkett in the papal nobility (1851–1948)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, retrieved 8 June 2011
  4. ^ Notable Irish Members (Historic): George Noble Plunkett. Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre. 
  5. ^ D. R. O'Connor Lysaght, 'Plunkett, Count George Noble', in Dictionary of Irish Biography, Cambridge University Press, 2009.
  6. ^ George Plunkett's 1911 Census Form
  7. ^ Lawrence William White, 'Plunkett, George Oliver Michael', in Dictionary of Irish Biography, Cambridge University Press, 2009.
  8. ^ Sawyer, Roger (1993). "We Are but Women": Women in Ireland's History. Routledge. pp. 87–88. ISBN 978-0-415-05866-7. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  9. ^ "Count Plunkett". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 11 February 2012. 
  10. ^ George, Count Plunkett profile
  11. ^ a b "Count George Plunkett". Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  12. ^ PLUNKET Lords of Fingall at Library Ireland
Political offices
Preceded by
Cathal Brugha
Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann
22 January 1919
Succeeded by
Seán T. O'Kelly
New office Minister for Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Arthur Griffith