Friday 19 July 2019

Celebrating a true Cork hero

Packed programme for inaugural Terence MacSwiney weekend

The former Lord Mayor of Cork Terence MacSwiney, whose life and legacy will be celebrated in Kilmurry over the weekend of October 19 to 21
The former Lord Mayor of Cork Terence MacSwiney, whose life and legacy will be celebrated in Kilmurry over the weekend of October 19 to 21

Bill Browne

The life and legacy of arguably one of the most pivotal figures in the struggle for Irish independence will be honoured during a fascinating celebration taking place at the Independence Museum in Kilmurry this month.

Organised by the Kilmurry Historical & Archaeological Association (KHAA), the inaugural Terence MacSwiney Weekend, which will run from October 19to 21, will recall both his cultural and revolutionary contribution to Irish society. 

Kilmurry parish has unique links to MacSwiney, the former Lord Mayor of Cork and first TD for mid-Cork, as it was the birthplace of his father, John. 

Terence spent much of his adult life in the surrounding Macroom district, between leisure and educational time in the Gaeltacht and Irish college at Ballingeary, and establishing Irish Volunteer companies in Kilmurry and surrounding parishes between 1915 and 1916.

The event will be formally opened on Friday night in St Mary's Church by Terence MacSwiney's grandson, Cathal MacSwiney Brugha, with the current Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Mick Finn, also in attendance. 

"It is fantastic to see the many aspects of Terence MacSwiney's life celebrated in this wonderful setting," said Cllr Finn. "As Lord Mayor, it is an honour to carry on a mayoral tradition carved by MacSwiney and his contemporary Tomás MacCurtain. They left indelible marks on the history of Cork and I applaud all those keeping that alive in Kilmurry."

On Saturday the Independence Museum in Kilmurry will host a number of talks, including a keynote presentation by Gabriel Doherty, lecturer at UCC's School of history, entitled 'The Look of the Conqueror - Terence MacSwiney and Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa'. 

Over the course of the weekend, visitors will also be able to view the extensive collection of exhibits in the museum. Saturday will also feature a tour of local places of significance to MacSwiney's life, including a talk by local historian Michael Galvin at Clodagh Castle, the ancestral seat of the MacSwiney clan. 

MacSwiney's work as a writer of drama and poetry is one of the lesser-known aspects of his relatively short life, before his death after a 74-day hunger strike in October 1920. 

However, this is something event organisers seek to rectify with readings and discussions of his poetry across the weekend. A poem commissioned by the KHAA and written by local award-winning poet John Fitzgerald will also be heard for the first time. 'Cipher' was inspired by the police code cipher in MacSwiney's possession at his final arrest. 

In another first, a hymn written by Peadar Ó Riada will be performed by the Kilmurry Parish Choir during an Irish language mass in St Mary's on Sunday night. 

Deirdre Bourke, KHAA chair, said it is intended to make the weekend an annual event coinciding with the anniversary of Terence MacSwiney's death on October 25, 1920.

"We have been planning to begin this celebration for many years. We want not only to mark Terence MacSwiney's deep links to Kilmurry, but also to spread awareness of his importance nationally to the revolutionary struggle for his independence, and of his influence and legacy internationally," said Ms Bourke. 

To see the full programme for the weekend and for ticket information, visit