Death & Legacy

Michael Davitt died on the 30th May, 1906. Only sixty at the time, his death was as a result of blood poisoning following an infection brought on after a tooth extraction. Davitt had specifically requested that he was to be buried in his homeplace of Straide if he was to die in Ireland or Britain. Although Davitt had requested that his funeral be the “simplest possible ceremony”, his body laid in state at Clarendon Street Church in Dublin, where it was visited by thousands of mourners before being returned to the graveyard of the Pre-Penal church in Straide.

Funeral procession of Michael Davitt, 1906.

His body lies in the graveyard of the church in which his parents were married and he was baptised, and now the building which houses his Museum. Michael Davitt’s death was reported in the national and international press, with news of his passing publicised in Europe, Britain, Australia, and America. Keir Hardie, the Scottish trade unionist and first parliamentary leader of the Labour Party, advised that their political party “should be well represented” at the funeral. American President Theodore Roosevelt expressed his condolences for Davitt’s death in a letter.

The Grave of Michael Davitt at Straide Church Graveyard

Davitt’s grave sits in sight of the spot of his original homeplace in Straide, and adjacent to Straide Friary, a thirteenth century abbey connected with the Dominican religious order. An appropriate inscription on his grave reads “Blessed is he that hungers and thirsts after justice, for he shall receive it.” Davitt’s life-long quest to highlight and assist social injustice is one of his most important legacies, and his work as a social activist and investigative journalist helped a number of worldwide causes find attention and assistance. His contribution to the shaping of the modern state is of great significance, and his national legacy with the social reform brought about by the actions of the Land League is hugely significant. A radical individual often thought to be ahead of his time, Davitt’s influence had wide and important repercussions on an international scale. His memory, and the commemoration of his many achievements, continue to be carried on by the Michael Davitt Museum.

Further Sources

The Michael Davitt Museum Straide, Co. Mayo

King, Carla (2009) Michael Davitt UCD Press

Marley, Laurence (2010) Michael Davitt: Freelance Radical and Frondeur Four Courts Press

View the video below of the Grave of Michael Davitt