In this eye-opening book, W. J. Mc Cormack explores and analyzes Plunkett’s brief life, work, and influence, beginning with his wealthy but dysfunctional family, irregular Jesuit education, and self-canceling sexuality. Mc Cormack continues through Plunkett’s active phase when amateur theatricals and a magazine editorship brought him into the emergent neonationalist discourse of early twentieth-century Ireland. Finally, the author arrives at Holy Week 1916, when Plunkett masterminded the forgery of official documentation in order to provoke and justify the insurrection he planned. Mc Cormack analyzes Plunkett’s significant texts and provides context through critical perspectives on his milieu. Enigmas of Sacrifice is unique in its effort to understand a major figure of Irish nationalism in terms that reach beyond political identity.
“A compelling reassessment of one of the most intriguing cultural figures responsible for the insurrection during Easter 1916, Enigmas of Sacrifice draws on a remarkable breadth of scholarly disciplines and original research to locate Joseph Plunkett within the complex transnational web of intellectual currents that shaped his life and times.”
—Fearghal McGarry, reader in modern Irish history, Queen’s University Belfast