Thomas MacDonagh on a beach holding his son, Donagh, in his arms at Greystones, County Wicklow. [1915]National Library of Ireland

Personal papers and photos of 1916 proclamation signatories Tom Clarke and James Connolly are now available to view for free online as part of the National.Library of Ireland’s 1916 Digital Collection.

Released by the NLI on Monday January 11, the latest papers join those of Éamonn Ceannt released last December and include love letters, letters to family and military orders.

In the Clarke collection we see a letter sent to him from Kathleen Daly, his future wife, dated August 1899. In the letter, she expresses delight in declaring her love and speaks of his forthcoming trip to America. In other letters, he speaks with her on the decision to move back to Ireland and of his plans to open a shop. Clarke’s shop was to become a meeting point for the leaders as they planned the Rising years later.

A further letter, dated 1905, was sent by Clarke to his son John Daly Clarke, who was staying in Limerick with his mother, Kathleen, after he had been unwell.

Joking with his young son, Clarke writes: “How many cows have you seen, and did they all have ears and tails? Did you see the one that jumped over the moon at all, he must be a great fellow.”

Letter from Tom Clarke to his son John Daly Clarke. Image: National Library of Ireland.

Letter from Tom Clarke to his son John Daly Clarke. Image: National Library of Ireland.

The Connolly papers also feature love letters to his then fiancee, Lily, as well as a heartbreaking article from September 1903 in the “Weekly People” in which he and his wife thank friends for condolences received upon the death of their daughter, Mona.

Other items in the Connolly papers include the manuscript draft of a song by James Connolly, titled “When Labor Calls” written circa 1903, and a letter from 1907 to the Secretary of the ISP (Irish Socialist Party) in which Connolly speaks about the formation of a new organization of Irish socialists in the United States, and requests a poem, “The artisan's garrett”, for use in that organization's inauguration.

As well as giving us an insight into the personal lives of some of Ireland’s best known names, certain items in the collection tell the story of the Rising itself. Featured in the collection is an order issued by James Connolly, Commandant-General, Dublin Division, Army of the Irish Republic, to "Officer in Charge [Frank Henderson], Henry Street" informing him to erect barricades in Henry Street and occupy the first and top floors of houses in the street. The order is dated April 25 1916, which would have been the second day of the rebellion.

Order issued by James Connolly, Commandant-General, Dublin Division, Army of the Irish Republic, to "Officer in Charge [Frank Henderson], Henry Street" informing him to erect barricades in Henry Street and occupy the first and top floors of houses in the street. [25th April 1916].

Order issued by James Connolly, Commandant-General, Dublin Division, Army of the Irish Republic, to "Officer in Charge [Frank Henderson], Henry Street" informing him to erect barricades in Henry Street and occupy the first and top floors of houses in the street. [25th April 1916].

“We are delighted to continue our contribution to the 1916 commemorations by cataloguing and digitising materials pertaining to Tom Clarke and James Connolly,” said Dr. Sandra Collins, Director of the National Library, on the Connolly and Clarke release..

“These original documents will allow viewers to experience the drama and intensity of the Easter Rising as well as gain insights into the social history of 1916 and personal stories of those involved. These collections remind us of the people behind the history.”

By April, papers relating to all seven of the signatories will be available in the collection with Seán Mac Diarmada and Thomas MacDonagh expected for release in February. Patrick Pearse and Joseph Plunkett will be the last to be made available, in March.

Draft, signed by Patrick Pearse, of the decision by the Republican forces to enter negotiations with the British, written on cardboard picture-mount, and found in 16 Moore St, Dublin. [29th April 1916].

Draft, signed by Patrick Pearse, of the decision by the Republican forces to enter negotiations with the British, written on cardboard picture-mount, and found in 16 Moore St, Dublin. [29th April 1916].

There will be more than 20,000 items available to view in the complete collection.

The collection was created as part of the NLI’s program of 1916 centenary events.

Other free events and activities taking place in the library throughout the year will include:

- ‘Inspiration Proclamation’: a series of public interviews with major figures on themes of the Proclamation and their relevance for Ireland in 2016 and beyond;

- ‘Readings from the Rising’: a series of performances of literary work accompanied by music and staged throughout our historic buildings;- School workshops and talks to help visitors trace their ancestors in this period.

The NLI will also offer a series of curated perspectives on 1916, onsite at the National Library’s buildings on Kildare Street, in Temple Bar, and online, including:

- ‘Rising’: a flagship photographic exhibition in the National Photographic Archive;

- ‘Signatories’: an exhibition in the NLI’s Kildare Street building which will present selected documents related to the seven signatories; and much more.

You can see examples of the items available to view, below, or search yourself at catalogue.nli.ie.

Note from Joseph Mary Plunkett to his family, stating that he and his brothers George and Jack have been arrested following the 1916 Rising and are imprisoned in Richmond Barracks. [30th April 1916].

Note from Joseph Mary Plunkett to his family, stating that he and his brothers George and Jack have been arrested following the 1916 Rising and are imprisoned in Richmond Barracks. [30th April 1916].

Letter from Éamonn Ceannt to Áine Ceannt from Kilmainham Gaol, advising that his trial has ended and that he expects to be sentenced to death. He intends “to die like a man for Ireland’s sake” but regrets that he will not see her again to show her how much she has meant to him. [5th May 1916].

Letter from Éamonn Ceannt to Áine Ceannt from Kilmainham Gaol, advising that his trial has ended and that he expects to be sentenced to death. He intends “to die like a man for Ireland’s sake” but regrets that he will not see her again to show her how much she has meant to him. [5th May 1916].

Letter from Seán Mac Diarmada to Joseph McGarrity regarding his own health, his doubts about Jim Larkin's nationalism, and plans for a Wolfe Tone Memorial. [12th December 1913].

Letter from Seán Mac Diarmada to Joseph McGarrity regarding his own health, his doubts about Jim Larkin's nationalism, and plans for a Wolfe Tone Memorial. [12th December 1913].