Born in Westport and trained as a doctor, MacBride abandoned that profession in favour of work with a chemist. He travelled to America in 1896 and supported the IRB, before emigrating to South Africa, where he became a naturalised citizen of the Transvaal.
When England attacked the Boer republics, McBride was commissioned as a major in the Irish Brigade, to aid the Boers in their struggle to maintain independence. When the war was over he went on a lecturing tour in the United States. From the States he went to Paris and returned to Dublin. MacBride married the Irish nationalist Maude Gonne in 1903.
He was not a member of the Irish Volunteers, but offered his services to Rising leader Thomas MacDonagh, and was at Jacob’s biscuit factory when that post was surrendered on Sunday, April 30, 1916. He was executed on May 5 at Kilmainham. He asked not to have his hands tied behind his back, but this was refused. When they did cover his eyes he made a similar request, remarking to the priest: “You know, father, I have often looked down their guns before.”