Death of The Lord Mayor of Cork, Terence MacSwiney

Terence MacSwiney, Lord Mayor of Cork, was born in Cork and educated at North Monastery Christian Brothers’ School and the Royal University of Ireland. MacSwiney was a founder member of the Cork Celtic Literary Society in 1901 and, with Daniel Corkery, of the Cork Dramatic Society in 1908, for which he wrote several plays. A principal figure in the formation of the Irish Volunteers in Cork in 1913, he was employed as a full-time organiser from 1915 and elected to the First Dáil as member for Mid-Cork.

Following the murder of Tomás MacCurtain in March 1920, MacSwiney was elected Lord Mayor of Cork. Arrested under the Defence of the Realm Act in August 1920 and sentenced to two years imprisonment, he embarked on a hunger strike in Brixton Jail and after 74 days, he died on 24 October 1920 at the age of 41.

Having sat by Terence's side through his ordeal, his sisters Mary MacSwiney and Annie were denied entry to see him in his final days. This letter was written by Father Dominic O’Connor OFM Cap., Chaplain at Brixton Prison, three hours after Terence died, informing the MacSwiney sisters that their beloved brother had 'completed his sacrifice for Ireland'.   

A transcription is below.   

UCDA P48b/111 Papers of Mary MacSwiney.

Mary MacSwiney


Fleet Street, London

8.47 a.m, Monday 25th Oct., 1920

Lord Mayor completed his sacrifice for Ireland at 5.40 this morning. 

Father Dominic.