Along with her sisters, including Grace, Nellie and Katy, Muriel Gifford took a strong interest in nationalist and feminist causes, becoming an active member of both the Women’s Franchise League and Inghinidhe na hÉireann. It was during a visit to St. Enda’s College in 1908 that she met Thomas MacDonagh. They married in January 1912, and had two children, Donagh and Barbara. As a leading figure in the Easter Rising and signatory of the Proclamation, Thomas was sentenced to death and Muriel was unable to visit him before his execution. In the aftermath of the Rising, she served as an officer and committee member of the Irish Volunteers Dependents’ Fund, on which she relied heavily as a widow rearing two young children. In July 1917 she was on holiday with other widows of the Rising in Skerries, Co. Dublin, when she got into difficulty swimming in the sea and drowned. She was buried in Glasnevin cemetery amidst much public sympathy.
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