Monthly Archives: October 2020

The Funeral of Terence MacSwiney and the Aftermath

Terence MacSwiney and his wife Muriel

MacSwiney’s 74-day hunger strike captured the attention of the international press and raised the profile of calls for an independent Ireland. It also kicked off protests in cities around the world such as New York. At the time Eamon de Valera was on an eighteen month tour of America on a mission to establish the Ireland as a Republic and to help raise finance for the independence movement. The event of the Lord Mayor’s death garnered a lot of support from the American’s. He was the second Lord Mayor of Cork to die in the dark days of the War of Independence. In March On 20 March 1920, his was shot dead Thomas Curtain by the RIC, (Royal Irish Constabulary) in front of his wife and child. It was his thirty-sixth birthday.

His death, the second death of a Cork mayor that year, made headlines around the world and brought international attention to the campaign for Irish freedom.

After his death further his family suffered the further fear that his body would be, like most prisoners interred in the grounds of Brixton Prison, as his funeral would certainly be a huge political affair. The British Home Office allowed his body to be put on board a ship and be sailed directly to his hometown Cork, bypassing Dublin completely. If it were to go to the Irish capital MacSwiney would certainly be given a state funeral, which would only turn up the heat on the political situation. His family won out in the end and they were granted permission to bring his coffin to St. George’s Church in London. It was the first of three funerals for the patriotic Lord Mayor. Thousands, many British filed by his remains before being removed to an awaiting ship to make his final journey home to the country he gave his life for.

His body was brought from the Cathedral in London, put on a train, accompanied by a large group of mourners, it was also accompanied by police, which arrived at Hollyhead early. The ship, which his family, mourners and Nationalists hoped would dock in Dublin for a funeral there, but it was not to be. His body was taken directly to Cork, vetoed by the authorities, to avoid large demonstrations in Dublin. Incensed Nationalists were not deterred from giving MacSwiney the funeral he deserved. A day of mourning and funeral procession went ahead even without a body. A Requiem Mass was said at the Pro-Catherdral attended by a crowd that spilled out onto Marlborough Street.

An hearse, without a coffin followed by thousands of mourners, made its way along the lined streets of Dublin to Kingsbridge Station, the same route that would have been followed if a real funeral was permitted. All the same it was followed lorries of British soldiers and met at the station by an armored car.

Terence McSwiney’s body arrived in Cork city. His family with guard of Irish Volunteers brought the body to Cork City Hall, where it lay in state for the citizens to pay their respects. His funeral at the Cathedral of St Mary and St Anne on October 31 attracted enormous crowds. He was buried in the Republican Plot of St Finbarr’s Cemetery, where Arthur Griffith gave the oration.

MacSwiney’s hunger strike instead had an international effect. The British Government was threatened with a boycott of goods by Americans, countries in South America pleaded with the Pope to intervene, while protests took place in Germany and France.

Terence McSwiney’ death was a source of inspiration to freedom fighters such as Gandhi, who also used hunger strike as a quiet power against the British government. he also inspired writers and poets such as Lousiene Murphy below:

His writing was published after his death such as the poem below.

The death of Terence MacSwiney was one of a myriad of events that lead to the burning of Cork, a pivotal event in the War of Independence a little over a month later.


Freeman’s Journal 26 October 1920


English-Irish Dictionary

Today the first major English-Irish dictionary published since 1959. Produced by Fóras na Gaeilge, this up to date version contains 1,800 pages, over 30,000 entries, and 1.8 million words in contemporary English and Irish.

The first comprehensive Irish language dictionary ever printed was published in Paris, France in 1732. An English-Irish dictionary, it was a treasure trove of information, containing prologues in Latin, Irish, English and French, along with a guide to Irish grammar. A special typeface was designed for the dictionary called Cló Phárais (the Paris Typeface), closely resembled handwriting.

Emily’s ancestors the Graisberrys, who were counted among the chief printers of Dublin for generations printed an 1814 version, compiled by Thaddeus Connellan.

Almost one hundred years later, in Emily subscribed to a new updated Irish-English Dictionary. It was brought out when Irish was introduced as a university subject the previous year. Emily and members of the Gaelic League celebrated the occasion on Achill.

How the News Came to Achill

On the evening of Sunday, June 26th [1910] they insisted in carrying the great news to the top of Croughan Mountain. There on the highest summit we planted the official announcement of the victory while the swirl of O’Cathain’s pipes we built an air over it and before coming down we lit a beacon light that could be seen away in Galway or northward in Donegal…

An Cliamheadh Soluis; March 4th 1911. P 4



Irish Independent 29 April 1911

An Cliamheadh Soluis; March 4th 1911. P 4

The Death of Terence MacSwiney, Lord Mayor of Cork

Freeman’s Journal 26 October 1920

One hundred years ago this week, Cork Lord Mayor Terrance MacSwiney died, after being on hunger strike for 73 days. His refusal to eat began on the day of his arrest on charges of sedition, in August 1920. He was one eleven Republicans from Cork to embark on a hunger strike as a form of protest.

Hunger striking had become a was a way of wielding power over the British Government by Irish Republicans during the revolutionary period. In 1917, Thomas Ashe was one of the first to die from the refusal of food, with many Irish political prisoners following in his footsteps. Most survived as they were released from jail, putting an end to their protest. After the death of Terence MacSwiney and two other Cork hunger strikers, Michael Fitzgerald and Joseph Murphy, acting President of the Republic, Arthur Griffith called for the surviving nine to end their fast. By early November all the Cork hunger strikers began taking food again.


Freeman’s Journal 26 October 1920