Oct 25 06 5:59 AM

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"If but few are faithful found, they must be all the more steadfast for being a few." - Terence MacSwiney

October 25th marks the anniversary of the passing of one of Ireland's greatest sons, Terence J. MacSwiney.

Terence Joseph MacSwiney (b.1879) was a shining example of Irish Republicanism, serving both as a leader of the Irish Republican Army's Cork Number One Brigade and as the Lord Mayor of Cork.

Although his youngest years were spent providing for his family and studying for a career in medicine, by his nineteenth year he had co-founded the Cork Celtic Literacy Society and was well into proving himself to be one of Ireland's most progressive thinking nationalists ever. He proceeded to graduate from the Royal University of Cork with a Mental & Moral Science degree, worked as an accountant, an educator and lecturer. Whilst doing all of this, he continued his literary work penning plays, poems and other literature all fueled by the political, nationalist fervor his heart and mind held so dear. In his first play, The Last Warriors of Coole, produced in 1910, MacSwiney's Fionn seems to predict the uprising that would occur in Ireland six years later, "A few men faithful and a deathless dream - to show the freedom of a race... No people shall despair to hear it told."

MacSwiney's writings in the paper, Irish Freedom would bring him to the attention of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and soon led to his co-founding the Cork Brigade of the Irish Volunteers with such men as Tomás MacCurtain and Sean O'Hegarty. Conflicting orders prevented the Cork Brigade from joining their comrades in the '16 Easter Rising, a source of deep remorse for MacSwiney who in return vowed, "Dublin won the first battle, Cork will win the second." Though official inquiry cleared Cork of all blame for the inaction during the rising, nonetheless the men and women of Cork proved themselves to be counted among Ireland's best and bravest in following years of the War for Independence.

The next three years would find MacSwiney involved in practically every aspect of the Republican struggle. He helped set up the Irish National Aid and Volunteers Dependents Fund, served as elected offical in the First Dáil Éireann, suffered internment a number of times and following the death of his comrade Tomás MacCurtain, was Commandant of the Cork No. 1 Brigade Irish Republican Army and elected Lord Mayor of Cork. On August 12, 1920, British agents raided Cork City Hall where an I.R.A. Brigade Staff meeting was to be held. MacSwiney was arrested for the possession of seditious documents and a police cipher key. After being prosectuted by a military tribunal, MacSwiney committed himself to his final sacrifice for Irish Freedom, his hungerstrike. On October 25, 1920 the 74th day of his strike, Terence MacSwiney joined his place among Ireland's martyrs. His final words were recorded as, "I want you to bear witness to the fact that I died as soldier of the Republic. God save Ireland."

History remembers with pride the numerous achievements of Terence MacSwiney, his bravery, his dedication... but one can argue that perhaps his greatest contribution to Ireland and her freedom was the borderless spirituality and intelligence found in his writings. Activists around the world can benefit from the wisdom and love contained in books like Principles of Freedom.

(A previous post by Saer!)

Principles of Freedom by Terence MacSwiney, 1921 ; Archived online at: Project Gutenberg
( http://www.gutenberg.org )
Despite Fools' Laughter by Terence MacSwiney, pub. 1944
Enduring the Most: The Life & Death of Terence MacSwiney by Francis Costello, 1995

Download Terence MacSwiney's Principles of Freedom free at:

An excerpt:

"A man of moral force is he, who, seeing a thing to be right and essential, and claiming his allegiance, stands for it as for the truth, unheeding any consequence. It is not that he is a wild person, utterly reckless of all mad possibilities, filled with a madder hope, and indifferent to any havoc that may ensue. No, but it is a first principle of his, that a true thing is a good thing, and from a good thing rightly pursued can follow no bad consequence. And he faces every possible development with conscience at rest--it may be with trepidation for his own courage in some great ordeal, but for the nobility of the cause and the beauty of the result that must ensue, always with serene faith. And soon the trepidation for himself passes, for a great cause always makes great men, and many who set out in hesitation die heroes. This it is that explains the strange and wonderful buoyancy of men, standing for great ideals, so little understood of others of weaker mould. The soldier of freedom knows he is forward in the battle of Truth, he knows his victory will make for a world beautiful, that if he must inflict or endure pain, it is for the regeneration of those who suffer, the emancipation of those in chains, the exaltation of those who die, and the security and happiness of generations yet unborn. For the strength that will support a man through every phase of this struggle a strong and courageous mind is the primary need--in a word, Moral Force. A man who will be brave only if tramping with a legion will fail in courage if called to stand in the breach alone. And it must be clear to all that till Ireland ran again summon her banded armies there will be abundant need for men who will stand the single test. 'Tis the bravest test, the noblest test, and 'tis the test that offers the surest and greatest victory. For one armed man cannot resist a multitude, nor one army conquer countless legions; but not all the armies of all the Empires of earth can crush the spirit of one true man. And that one man will prevail."
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#1 [url]

Oct 26 06 2:44 AM

Oct. 25th, 1920-Terence MacSwiney and Joseph Murphy Die

1920 IRA Hunger Strike

In the fall of 1920, during the Tan War, the British had withdrawn political status, which had been won after the death of Thomas Ashe in 1917 and after the 2-week mass hunger strike in Mountjoy Jail in April of 1920. On the 11th of August, a mass strike was once again initiated, this time in Cork Jail, when 60 IRA members, most of whom were held without charge or trial, demanded reinstatement of political status and release. The British, having hardened their attitude against status following the April strikes, opted to risk the deaths of pows rather than make concessions. In the weeks that followed, the British released or transferred many of the 60 until only 11 were left. Three of these were Terence McSwiney (who had joined the strike on the 12th of August, the day after it had begun), Michael Fitzgerald, and Joseph Murphy. On the 16th of August, McSwiney was sentenced to 2 years but said his strike would continue, and he was deported to Brixton that very night. Following McSwiney's death, the hunger strike in Cork Jail continued for a further three weeks, and following a request from Arthur Griffith, acting President of the Irish Republic, the remaining nine prisoners on hunger strike ended their fast on 12 November 1920.


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#2 [url]

Oct 26 06 2:54 AM

My personal link to Ireland’s hidden history

Irish Examiner


I WISH to congratulate RTÉ and the participating historians for its recent Hidden History series, in particular the Burning of Cork programme.

When I was a very young lad, I remember my mother telling me how difficult those times were, but I never realised how bad until I saw it on my TV screen.

She often spoke about the courage of the hunger strikers - great men like Lord Mayor Terence MacSweeney, Michael Fitzgerald, and her own brother, Joseph Murphy, from Pouladuff Road in Cork.

My uncle, Joe Murphy, was born at 129 Brookline Street, Linn, Massachusetts, circa 1896.

He came to Ireland with his parents in the early 1900s.

He received his education in Togher National School and, when he left school, worked for Cork County Council.

He was a deeply religious man, being a member of the Third Order of St Francis, the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association and a non-smoker.

He was a very keen sportsman and played hurling with the Plunkett’s club in Togher parish, but his real love was road bowling. I have been told by old timers who knew him that he was the Mick Barry of his day.

He joined the Irish Volunteers at a young age and became involved in the fight for freedom.

The exact reason for his arrest and imprisonment was never confirmed but the charge supposedly was possession of an incendiary device. This was never proven.

His hunger strike began on August 11, 1920, and, having received the last rites, he died at 8.35pm on Tuesday, October 25, after 76 day’s fast. He was 24.

He was buried in the Republican Plot in St Finbarr’s Cemetery on October 27, 1920.

There is a plaque to him on the wall of the old family home, known as Joe Murphy House, at Lower Pouladuff Road.

He also had a road named after him and some memorabilia is on display in the Cork Museum in Fitzgerald Park.

The Joe Murphy Cumann was formed with the foundation of Fianna Fáil in 1926 - the first party cumann.

I am very proud, as the nephew of Joe Murphy, to be the present secretary of this cumann which this year will celebrate its 80th anniversary.*

There were, of course, many young men like Joe who gave their lives for the cause of Irish freedom and, certainly, their bravery should never be forgotten.**

Richard Delaney
14 Green Lawn
Kinsale Road

*Proud to be FF? Why?
**Nor should what they fought for be forgotten, and it wasn't some 26-County "republic".

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