MacBride assistant donates collection

Mon, Dec 10, 2012, 00:00

A former assistant to Seán MacBride has donated a collection of memorabilia belonging to him and his father, Major John MacBride, to the National Museum of Ireland.

It includes a rare, numbered 1916 medal in commemoration of Major MacBride’s role during the 1916 Easter Rising.

Caitriona Lawlor was Dr MacBride’s personal assistant for the last 11 years of his life and edited his memoir That Day’s Struggle: a Memoir 1904-1951. She inherited the memorabilia along with his papers after his death.

She said she donated the collection so it would be available for display on the 100th anniversary of the Rising. The National Museum at Collins Barracks has an extensive collection of 1916 memorabilia. “These are now heritage items – an important reminder of the depth of our struggle to become an independent nation,” she said.

Major MacBride was a key figure in Jacob’s factory during the Rising. He was executed in Kilmainham Gaol on May 5th, 1916. He had been married to Maud Gonne. The collection includes his pipe and cigarette case, inscribed: “For Ireland’s honour, 25th April, 1916”.

A War of Independence medal awarded to Seán MacBride is part of the collection. He became IRA chief of staff before the 1937 Constitution was enacted and was minister for external affairs during the 1948-1951 coalition.

He played a key role internationally in the development of human rights and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1974.

The museum’s head of collections, Raghnall Ó Floinn, said the museum was delighted to receive the collection.

He said Major MacBride’s 1916 medal was the most important piece in the donation because so few were issued and because of the poignancy associated with it being awarded posthumously.