jeudi 25 octobre 2012

Remembering our Irish Martyrs : Michael Fitzgerald, Terence MacSwiney and Patrick Joseph Murphy

Michael Fitzgerald was a member of the Irish Republican Army who died on Hunger strike at Cork Jail on 17 October 1920.

A native of Ballyoran, Fermoy, County Cork, Fitzgerald was educated at the Christian Brothers School in the town and subsequently found work as a mill worker in the locality. He joined the Irish Volunteers in 1914 and played an important role in building the local organisation which was soon to become the Irish Republican Army (IRA). He soon rose to the rank of Battalion Commandant, 1st Battalion, Cork No.2 Brigade.

On Easter Sunday, April 20 1919 Michael Fitzgerald led a small group of IRA volunteers who captured Araglin Royal Irish Constabulary baracks on the Cork / Tipperary border. He was subsequently arrested and sentenced to three months imprisonment at Cork Jail.

Fitzgerald was released from prison in August 1919 and immediately returned to active IRA duty. He was involved in the holding up of a party of British Army troops at the Wesleyan Church in Fermoy. The troops were disarmed although one of them was killed.

Michael Fitzgerald was again arrested and jailed on 8 September 1920. Once again in Cork Jail he joined a major hunger strike of IRA prisoners at the jail in 1920 and died at the jail on 17 October 1920 after a sixty-seven day hunger strike which also claimed the life of his comrade Joe Murphy and Terence McSwiney.

Michael Fitzgerald is buried at Kilcrumper Cemetery, on the outskirts of Fermoy.

On this day in 1920 - Terence MacSwiney, the Mayor of Cork, dies in a London prison after 73 days on hunger strike. His last words to a priest by his side were, "I want you to bear witness that I die as a soldier of the Irish Republic."

Terence Joseph MacSwiney (28 March 1879 – 25 October 1920) was an Irish playwright, author and politician. He was elected as Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Cork during the Irish War of Independence in 1920. He was arrested by the British on charges of sedition and imprisoned in Brixton prison in England. His death there in October 1920 after 74 days on hunger strike brought him and the Irish struggle to international attention.

Described as a sensitive poet-intellectual, MacSwiney's writings in the newspaper Irish Freedom brought him to the attention of the Irish Republican Brotherhood. He was one of the founders of the Cork Brigade of the Irish Volunteers in 1913, and was President of the Cork branch of Sinn Féin. He founded a newspaper, Fianna Fáil, in 1914, but it was suppressed after only 11 issues.

In April 1916, he was intended to be second in command of the Easter Rising in Cork and Kerry, but stood down his forces on the order of Eoin MacNeill. Following the rising, he was interned under the Defence of the Realm Act in Reading and Wakefield Gaols until December 1916. In February 1917 he was deported from Ireland and interned in Shrewsbury and Bromyard internment camps until his release in June 1917. It was during his exile in Bromyard that he married Muriel Murphy of the Cork distillery-owning family. In November 1917, he was arrested in Cork for wearing an Irish Republican Army (IRA) uniform, and, inspired by the example of Thomas Ashe, went on a hunger strike for three days prior to his release.

In the 1918 general election, MacSwiney was returned unopposed to the first Dáil Éireann as Sinn Féin representative for Mid Cork, succeeding the Nationalist MP D. D. Sheehan. After the murder of his friend Tomás Mac Curtain, the Lord Mayor of Cork on 20 March 1920, MacSwiney was elected as Lord Mayor. On 12 August 1920, he was arrested in Dublin for possession of seditious articles and documents, and also possession of a cipher key. He was summarily tried by court martial on 16 August and sentenced to two years' imprisonment in Brixton Prison.

Read more about his Hunger strike, the Aftermath and legacy and for more links:

Volunteer Patrick Joseph Murphy, who died on hunger strike on October 25, 1920, was educated at Togher National School, Cork. He was an avid sportsman who played hurling for the old Plunketts club in Togher and also enjoyed a game of road bowling on most Sunday mornings.

His life changed dramatically when he, along with many of his friends, joined the local company of the Irish Republican Army in the early stages of the War of Independence. Following a raid on his home on the night of July 15, 1920 he was arrested and imprisoned at Cork County Jail.

Two months later, he was one of a group of sixty Cork republicans - including Terence MacSwiney - who embarked on hunger strike. The mass protest captured the sympathy of the general public and large crowds congregated outside the jail gates each day, many reciting the rosary. However, after a fast lasting seventy-six days, twenty four year old Joe Murphy died. Thousands attended his removal to the Lough Chapel. The funeral ceremonies were dominated by a strong British military presence and no more than a hundred people were allowed to follow the hearse to St. Finbarr’s Cemetery.

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