Perhaps the most traditional of the Republican martyrs of the Irish War of Independence, Terence MacSwiney was elected Lord Mayor of Cork following the killing of his friend and predecessor Tomas MacCurtain. MacSwiney took office in March 1920 and was dead by 25 October 1920.
His life echoes that of Padraig Pearse
in many ways. He, like Pearse, was something of a playwright and an intellectual rather than a fighting man in the mould of Collins, Brugha or even Treacy, and founded or helped to found a number of artistic and literary organisations, the Celtic Literary Society, and the Cork Dramatic Society. He wrote several collections of poetry and his thoughts on ideology were posthumously published in 1921 by the Talbot press under the title: Principles of Freedom (you can download a Project Gutenberg e-copy here). His opening paragraphs suggest a man quite alive to the difficulties of the struggle he was engaged in:
What, then, is the true basis to our claim to freedom? There are two points of view. The first we have when fresh from school, still in our teens, ready to tilt against everyone and everything, delighting in saying smart things--and able sometimes to say them--talking much and boldly of freedom, but satisfied if the thing sounds bravely. There is the later point of view. We are no longer boys; we have come to review the situation, and take a definite stand in life. We have had years of experience, keen struggles, not a little bitterness, and we are steadied. We feel a heart-beat for deeper things. It is no longer sufficient that they sound bravely; they must ring true. The schoolboy's dream is more of a Roman triumph--tramping armies, shouting multitudes, waving banners--all good enough in their way. But the dream of men is for something beyond all this show. If it were not, it could hardly claim a sacrifice.
His death came after a 74 day long hunger strike, started after he was sentenced to two years in prison for sedition. He died a week after his fellow hunger striker, Michael Fitzgerald, and on the same day as another protester, Joe Murphy.
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