Clarke, Joseph Christopher (1882–1976), republican, was born 22 December 1882 in Rush, Co. Dublin, son of William Clarke, merchant seaman, and Margaret Clarke (née Austin). Educated locally, he left school aged 11 and began work as a kitchen porter, later becoming a boot-shop assistant, a harness maker and a van driver. Influenced by a series of lectures at the Oliver Bond Club, Parnell Square, and by the writings of Arthur Griffith (qv), he committed himself to the republican cause, joining the IRB in 1913 and subsequently the Irish Volunteers. During the 1916 rising he took part in the Mount St. bridge battle (remaining indignant thereafter about the Boland's mill garrison's refusal to reinforce Mount St.) and was interned in Wakefield prison and Frongoch.
After the general release of internees he lived and worked at Sinn Féin headquarters, where as caretaker he frequently concealed republican leaders. A dáil courier and a close associate of Countess Markievicz (qv), he was an active Volunteer and a Dublin corporation councillor. He was also a founder member of the republican commemoration committee and the prisoners' dependants fund. During the civil war he took the anti-treaty side, publishing handbills and pamphlets in support of various republican candidates. Frequently arrested, he suffered abuse at the hands of Free State forces. In 1924 he became election agent for Seán Lemass (qv) and in 1926 a founder member of the National Graves Association. Together with Brian O'Higgins (qv) he established the Irish Book Bureau for the publication of republican books and patriotic ballads, and ran a bookshop from his office on the corner of Henry St. and Upper O'Connell St., and later from his home on the South Circular Road. In 1937 he assisted O'Higgins in publishing the Wolfe Tone Weekly.
Although jailed many times between 1922 and 1940, he remained an active republican campaigner, supporting the IRA initiatives of the 1940s and 1950s, taking a prominent role at republican meetings, and publicising the conditions of republican prisoners. Throughout 1966 he protested at the various 1916 commemorative functions and interrupted a tribute to the life of Cathal Brugha (qv) in 1972 to concentrate attention on republican prisoners in the Curragh camp. After the Sinn Féin split of 1970 he firmly allied himself to the provisional wing of the party and became honorary vice-president of Sinn Féin (Kevin St.) and a member of the Sinn Féin ard-chomhairle. In 1973 he was deported from Britain on his arrival at Heathrow airport. Despite crippling arthritis he continued his work, refusing an IRA pension as he considered himself still on active service. He died 22 April 1976 at St James's Hospital, Dublin, and is buried in Glasnevin cemetery close to the republican plot. He married (25 July 1909) Anne, daughter of Thomas Hughes, sawyer; they had two sons and one daughter. After her death, he married (30 May 1949) Elizabeth Delaney.