October Document of the Month
This month sees the 100th centenary of the death of the revolutionary Lord Mayor of Cork, Terence MacSwiney.
To mark this anniversary we share a file from the Chief Secretary’s Office Registered Papers relating to MacSwiney’s internment in the wake of the 1916 Rising. MacSwiney had been active in the fight for Irish independence having helped set up the Cork Brigade of Irish Volunteers in 1913. According to the file, MacSwiney ‘organised nearly all the Irish Volunteer Branches in Cork W.R. [West Riding]. He was arrested in the house of Robert Hales, Knocknacarra, Bandon, on 3/5/16 with other dangerous Sinn Feiners after apparently evading arrest in Cork City’.
This file ref. CSO/RP/1918/16628/A125 is the application for the release of Terence MacSwiney from custody. In seeking the release of internees, local police were asked their opinion. In response, the District Inspector, CF Walsh, states that MacSwiney ‘was always an extremist. He took a very active part in promoting and organising the Irish Volunteers in Cork and was constantly travelling round by train and bicycle visiting country district and stirring up sedition. He contributed articles to Sinn Fein papers and wrote seditious pamphlets and songs. He is possessed with a fanatical hatred of all things British and is at the same time an able and highly educated man’. In a further opinion, he outlines how MacSwiney was found in possession of seditious literature and cipher codes, including discussion of the ‘desirability of shooting John Redmond’. He concludes by stating that ‘there are many enemies of England in Cork who may be regarded without concern as they possess neither the resolution nor the ability to be really dangerous. McSweeney has both the will and the ability’. His application for release was refused.
MacSwiney was elected to the First Dáil in 1918 and became Lord Mayor of Cork in March 1920, following the murder of Tomás Mac Curtain. He was arrested and tried by court martial in August 1920 and sentenced to two year’s imprisonment in Brixton jail in England, where he died on October 25th after 74 days on hunger strike.
The full CSORP file can be viewed here.