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