Born into a Catholic nationalist family in Dublin in 1851, George Noble Plunkett attended primary school in Nice, where he became fluent in French and Italian and, from 1872, attended Trinity College Dublin where he studied renaissance and medieval art. A poet, bibliophile and expert on Botticelli, Plunkett became director of the National Museum of Ireland in 1907 and was a committed supporter of the Irish Parliamentary party. By April 1916, however, Count Plunkett had been sworn in to the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) and sent secretly to seek German aid and a papal blessing for the planned Rising. Two of his sons were imprisoned after the Rising, while a third son, Joseph, was executed as a signatory of the Proclamation. George Plunkett was sacked from his role as director of National Museum of Ireland and deported to Oxford. He returned illegally in January 1917 to successful contest Roscommon North by-election. Arrested in May 1918 during the German Plot, Plunkett was released soon after Sinn Féin's general election landslide in which he was returned unopposed. As Sinn Féin's oldest elected member, he presided at the planning meeting for Dáil Éireann on 17 January 1919 and at its opening session on 21 January.