Gonne, Maud

BORN 21 Dec 1866, Tongham, Surrey - DIED 27 Apr 1953, Dublin: Clonskeagh
GRAVE LOCATION Dublin: Glasnevin Cemetery

Maud Gonne was the eldest daughter of Captain Thomas Gonne (1835-1886). After the death of her mother she was sent to a boarding school in France. In 1882 she accompanied her father to Dublin, where he was posted. Back in France she fell in love with the politician Lucien Millevoye. They agreed that Ireland should be independant and Alsace-Lorraine should be returned to France.

She went to Ireland once more where she worked for the release of Irish political prisoners. In 1889 she met William Butler Yeats for the first time. He fell in love with her.

In 1889 she had a son, Georges, by Millevoye, who died in 1891. She was devastated and he was buried in a chapel at the Cimetiere de Samois-sur-Seine that she paid for from an inheritance. But she was curiously advised that her son could be revived if her parents had sex at his tomb. She did have sex at in the mausoleum with Millevoye in 1893 with the idea of having another son with the soul of Georges, but her son didn't return to her. In 1894 her daughter Iseult was born, fathered by Millevoye.

During the 1890s she campaigned for the Irish nationalist cause and in 1899 her relationship with Millevoye finally ended. In 1897 she organised protests against the Diamond Jubilee of Victoria and she was supported by Yeats. Yeats proposed to her repeatedly but she refused him because she considered him to be not nationalistic enough and she also thought she harmed his poetry writing so the world would be grateful to her if she didn't marry him.

In 1903 she married John MacBride and in 1904 they had a son, Sean. They decided to end their marriage and after a court case in Paris in 1905 she won custody of their son. She raised Iseult in France. MacBride was executed in 1916 after the Easter Rising.

In 1917 Yeats proposed to Iseult, who was 23 at the time. She refused him like her mother had done before. In 1918 Yeats porposed again and this time she considered it carefully before she turned him down again. Maud settled in Ireland again in 1922. On 10 april 1923 she was arrested for anti government acitivities but she was released after twenty days. In 1938 she published her autobiography, "A Servant of the Queen".

She died in 1953 and was buried at Glasnevin Cemetery. Her son Seán MacBride was one of the founders of Amnesty International and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1974.


The grave of Maud Gonne at Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.
Picture by Androom (19 Aug 2016)


Maud Gonne - Wikipedia

Goodman, Julia

Published: 11 Sep 2016
Last update: 20 Apr 2022