Random Ramblings from a Republican
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Terence MacSwiney - True Patriot

Terence MacSwiney was born in Cork City in 1879. He was educated in accounting at the Royal University and was a voracious reader as a youth. Later he would receive a philosophy degree from RU.

At 22, he and other founded the Cork Celtic Literary Society. Carrying on his interest in all things literary, he and his friend Daniel Corkery published and wrote several plays for the Cork Dramatic Society.

He became interested in nationalism at an early age and helped to start the Cork Brigade of the Irish Volunteers. Terence was also the original president of Sinn Fein's Cork cumann. As well as full time duties as a leader of the Volunteers and of Sinn Fein, MacSwiney also published a weekly newspaper call Fianna Fail, which caught the immediate attention of the Brits after only 11 weeks of publication. They suppressed the publication and threatened MacSwiney and other contributors.

Terence MacSwiney was arrested in early 1916 and interned under the Defence of the Realm Act in Reading and Wakefield Gaols from April to December 1916 for giving a seditious speech. He was to be jailed for this two more times in the next year and a half.

In February 1917 MacSwiney was deported and interned in Shrewsbury and Bromyard internment camps in Britain for five months. In November 1917 he was arrested in Cork for wearing an IRA uniform and was imprisoned in Cork Gaol where he went on a three day hunger-strike before he was released. MacSwiney was arrested in Dublin in March, 1918 and imprisoned in Belfast and Dundalk Gaols until September when he was released, re-arrested and imprisoned to Lincoln Gaol. In the same year he published a volume of poetry entitled Battle Cries.

In 1919, he was elected to the Dail Eireann for Mid-Cork, while his good mate Tomas MacCurtain was elected Lord Mayor of Cork City. In March of 1920, MacCurtain was murdered in his home by members of the Royal Irish Constabulary, some of whom were later killed by the IRA in retribution. MacSwiney was elected Lord Mayor in place of his murdered comrade.

All this while, MacSwiney had been working has head of the IRA's 1st Cork Brigade. This would be the thing that set in motion his arrest and eventual death. He, along with Liam Lynch, leader of the 2nd Cork Brigade, and other IRA leaders, were arrested in August 1920 by the Brits. Shortly after the British, not recognising the others, released all but Terence.

On August 16th, MacSwiney was court-martialed and sentenced to two years in prison. But from the start, Terence had no intention of giving the Brits the comfort of submission to their system. He believed they had no place in his country.

He joined a hungerstrike already in progress in Cork Jail. After five days in Cork Jail, the O/C of the IRA's Cork No. 1 Brigade was transferred to the British prison, Brixton. MacSwiney had been a part of two other hungerstrikes, including one lengthy one in 1918. He knew what to expect.

He died seventy-five days later on October 25, 1920. His funeral brought the largest crowd in the history of Ireland until Bobby Sands' eclipsed it more than 60 years later.

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Ta ar la anois.

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