Terence McSwiney Bust on Marble
Terence McSwiney is an important figure in Cork history, and in Irish history generally. When he died in 1920, his funeral attracted one of the biggest crowds ever seen in Cork.
As a young man, McSwiney developed a great interest in literature, the Irish language and the struggle for Irish independence. He joined the Gaelic League and helped found both the Cork branch of the Celtic Literary Society and the Cork Dramatic Society. As a writer, he tried his hand at poetry and drama. His poetry was later collected into a volume entitled The Music of Freedom. His best-known play is The Revolutionist.
In 1913 McSwiney helped to found the Cork branch of the Irish Volunteers. When the group split over the issue of whether or not to support England in World War I, McSwiney joined the group opposing such support.
On the outbreak of the 1916 Rising, the Volunteers in Cork, under the command of Tomás MacCurtain, were confused by contradictory orders from the leadership of the Volunteers and the clandestine Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB). As a result, no rising took place in Cork. This ‘failure’ of Cork to rise in 1916 was to haunt McSwiney for the rest of his life.