The Accidental Hero - Major John McBride

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Where: Dublin, Ireland

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When: 01 January 1916

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Whether it is true or not, there is a story that Major John McBride was going somewhere on Easter Monday in 1916 and, meeting some of those about to revolt, he joined-in. This, soon after, led to his execution as one of the leaders! He, along with his wife, daughter and son, left an enormous mark on Ireland and on Irish society.

The Rising section of McBride's Wikipedia article, which BeachcomberAustralia highlights, seems to corroberate the apparent happenstance of his involvement in the rebellion. This image, commemorative of that involvement, was published in postcard and poster form. As guliolopez tells us, these reproductions were printed by Powell Press of Parliament Street, Dublin. When the original image was taken (and who took it) is unconfirmed, but most other versions seem to give a range of c.1900-1916....

Photographers: Various

Collection: Irish Political Figures Photographic Collection

Date: Catalogue range c.1890-1920. Likely after c.1900. Definitely before 1916 (death)


You can also view this image, and many thousands of others, on the NLI’s catalogue at


Owner: National Library of Ireland on The Commons
Source: Flickr Commons
Views: 15216
irishpoliticalfiguresphotographiccollection nationallibraryofireland politicalfigures ireland majorjohnmcbride maudgonnemcbride seanmcbride 1916 executedleader kilmainham westport comayo boerwar powellpress parliamentstreet dublin foxyjack macbride easterrising 1916rising postcard poster memorial irishrebellion

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    • 20/Aug/2018 08:22:33

    John MacBride. 7 May 1868 – 5 May 1916 "His red hair and long nose led to him being given the nickname "Foxy Jack"." Much more at -

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    • 20/Aug/2018 10:06:21

    Here is a titbit of information from 1903 via Trove ... "... When MacBrlde was in an engagement at Modderspruit in October, 1899, a shell burst above a rock behind which he was taking cover. Instinctively he put his hand up to his neck, and a splinter tore an agate from the bezil of his ring. He lost the stone, but the rest of it is now his wife's wedding-ring." See -

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    • 20/Aug/2018 10:33:19

    This image and text, along with memorials to the other men executed, appear together in this poster published by Powell Press, of 22 Parliament Street (close to Dublin City Hall). Seemingly there were also postcard versions (which this one may have been). Also published by Powell Press. I haven't found anything more concrete to indicate when and who took the original.

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    • 20/Aug/2018 11:17:06

    Flickr is sometimes amazing - but alas no more clues to the provenance. Via[email protected]/[email protected]/8377279743/

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    • 20/Aug/2018 15:06:18

    My mother had a great admiration for this man and there was a picture of him in the boys bedroom at home. I had this fellow looking down at me every morning when i woke up!

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    • 20/Aug/2018 15:57:14

    Completely unrelated to this image, but can someone corroborate that the OSI has removed the ability to (freely) navigate and compare the modern OSI map and historic overlays? Certainly, when I click on them now, all the OSI mapping links (in previous images) seem to be now broken/redirected. If so: Shock. Dismay. Tears.

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    • 20/Aug/2018 16:00:16

    Actually. After a quick look, it seems that you can still navigate the historic maps "for free". But only on a hunt and zoom basis (hint: click "customise"). I haven't yet found a way to deep link.

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    • 20/Aug/2018 21:04:03

    Buenas fotos antiguas .

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    • 20/Aug/2018 21:42:46[email protected] All the OSI Flickr links to those wonderful old maps seem to have died. Boo hoo!

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 22/Aug/2018 00:23:12

    Thanks all. I have updated the description, tags, and date to reflect the inputs on this one. I have also updated the map - to reflect the printing shop on Parliament Street. Hopefully the changes to the OSI website don't hinder our ability to map other images in future. That would be a "boo hoo" indeed :\

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    • 23/Aug/2018 00:35:12

    He married that Maud Gonne lady we had on here a while ago.

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    Frank Fullard

    • 11/Sep/2018 12:28:04

    He was executed as much for his role in fighting the British in the Boer War in South Africa, where he raised and led the Irish Transvaal Brigade, as for his role in the 1916 Rising. He married Maud Gonne and was the father of Sean McBride, but the marriage did not last; although after his execution she became known as Maud Gonne McBride. Their marriage was a cause of great jealousy to W. B. Yeats, who was infatuated with Maud Gonne. He made unflattering reference to him in his poem "Easter 1916", so much so that afterwards Maud Gonne berated him for his comments. She wrote to Yeats: "No I dont like your poem, it isn't worthy of you & above all it isn't worthy of its subject... As for my husband he has entered eternity by the great door of sacrifice."

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    • 14/Sep/2018 20:16:47

    Major MacBride was without his Webley at any rate. ''He was in Dublin early on Easter Monday morning to meet his brother Dr. Anthony MacBride, who was arriving from Westport to be married on the Wednesday. The Major walked up Grafton St and saw Thomas MacDonagh in uniform and leading his troops. He offered his services and was appointed second-in-command at the Jacob’s factory.''