George Noble Plunkett or Count Plunkett (3 December 1851 – 12 March 1948) was an Irish nationalist and father of Joseph Mary Plunkett, one of the leaders of the Easter Rising of 1916. Born in Dublin, he was educated at Clongowes Wood College. Plunkett spent much time abroad, notably studying in Nice, France, and throughout Italy.
He published his first volume of verse God’s Chosen Festival in 1877. In 1884 he was created a Papal Count by Pope Leo XIII for his building work for the Papacy near Rome. Plunkett was called to the Irish Bar in 1886.
From 1907 to 1916 he was curator of the National Museum in Dublin. His interest in politics likely came mostly through his sons, Joseph, George and John, though it was following the execution of Joseph that he became radicalised (it is likely that Joseph swore him into the Irish Republican Brotherhood some time before he was shot). He travelled to Germany with communiqués for Roger Casement. He was expelled from the Royal Dublin Society for his son’s role in the Easter Rising. After the Rising he was deported and imprisoned in Reading Gaol where he remained until shortly before his election on an abstentionist platform in the North Roscommon by-election of February, 1917.
After his election, he made the decision to abstain from Westminster. He was re-elected in the 1918 general election and joined the First Dáil, in which he served briefly as Speaker. Plunkett presided over a Republican Convention at which the Liberty League was founded. He also presided over the Mansion House Convention which resulted in the amalgamation of republican groups into the new Sinn Féin to which the recently released Eamonn de Valera was elected President.Following the Irish War of Independence, he joined the anti-treaty side, and continued to support Sinn Féin after the split with Fianna Fáil. Plunkett opposed the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty and, as a member of the Second Dáil, he was one of the signatories who, in 1938, signed over the Second Dáil’s mandate to govern Ireland to the Army Council of the IRA. In a 1936 by-election in the Galway constituency, Plunkett ran as a joint Cumann Poblachta na hÉireann / Sinn Féin candidate. Losing his deposit, he polled 2,696 votes (a 2.1% share). In 1938 he was one of the former members of the Second Dáil that assigned a claimed residual sovereign power to the IRA, a process known as Irish republican legitimatism.
He was married to Mary Josephine Cranny and they had seven children: Philomena (ca. 1886), Joseph (1887), Moya (Maria, ca. 1889), Geraldine (ca. 1891), George Oliver (1895), Fiona (ca. 1896) and John (Jack, ca. 1897). Joseph, George and Jack were all sentenced to death following the Easter Rising, but George and Jack had their sentences commuted to 10 years penal servitude, and both were released in 1917. At least two of his daughters, Philomena and Fiona, were involved in preparations for the Rising. Count Plunkett died at the age of 96 in Ireland.