By Pauline Murphy
March is a month which saw the births of two Cork Lord Mayors. Terence MacSwiney was born 140 years ago on March 28th, while Thomas MacCurtain was born 135 years ago on March 20th.
These two men would become martyrs in Ireland’s fight for freedom, MacSwiney died on hunger strike in Brixton Prison in 1920 and MacCurtain was shot dead in his home in Cork city the same year.
Terence MacSwiney was born at 23, North Main Street, in Cork city, one of eight children to John MacSwiney and Mary Wilkinson. MacSwiney’s father was a school teacher in London and in 1868 he joined a papal guard in the fight against Garibaldi in Italy.
When the MacSwiney patriarch returned to Cork he opened a tabacco factory but, the business failed and he emigrated to Australia in 1885, leaving behind his wife and children.
Terence, or Terry as he was known to family and friends, was highly influenced by his mother’s nationalist politics and even though she was English born, MacSwiney’s mother loathed the English grip on Irish life.
MacSwiney received his education from the Christian Brothers at the North Mon Cork city and at 15 he left school to work as an accountancy clerk. While working he also continued his education and enrolled at UCC, back then known as Queen’s College, and he graduated with a degree in Mental and Moral Science in 1907.