Kilmurry event honours MacSwiney
life and legacies of Terence MacSwiney (1879-1920) will be celebrated in an inaugural Terence MacSwiney Weekend, taking place at Independence Museum Kilmurry this Friday to Sunday.
As a celebration of the cultural - as well as the revolutionary – side of his life, original music and poetry have been commissioned by organisers, Kilmurry Historical & Archaeological Association (KHAA).
The community of the midCork parish has instigated what it plans to be an annual event, as it has unique links to MacSwiney. It was the birthplace of John MacSwiney, father of the late Lord Mayor of Cork city and first TD for Mid-Cork.
Terence MacSwiney 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 in 1915 and 1916.
Peadar Ó Riada has composed a hymn which will have its first public performance by Kilmurry Parish Choir during an Irish-language Mass, to be celebrated by Monsignor Kevin O’Callaghan in St Mary’s Catholic Church in Kilmurry on Sunday morning.
The same venue – right next to KHAA’s Independence Museum Kilmurry – will hear opening remarks to the Terence MacSwiney Weekend from his grandson, Cathal MacSwiney Brugha, on Friday night.
A successor of MacSwiney’s, Cork’s current Lord Mayor Councillor Mick Finn will also attend.
“It is fantastic to see the many aspects of Terence MacSwiney’s life celebrated in this wonderful setting, where his contributions to culture, politics and revolution a century ago are already well commemorated,” said Cllr Finn.
“As Lord Mayor of Cork city, 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,” he said.
On Saturday, Independence Museum Kilmurry will host a number of talks about the life and the literary works of Terence MacSwiney.
Gabriel Doherty, a lecturer at University College Cork’s School of History, will deliver a lecture: ‘The Look of the Conqueror: Terence MacSwiney and Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa.’ He will explore points of similarity, and the differences, in the lives and political careers of the two men.
MacSwiney had just taken up the role of full-time Irish Volunteers organiser in Cork when he attended the famous west Cork-born Fenian, O’Donovan Rossa’s funeral in Dublin.
“I will seek, more particu- larly, to explore the influence that O’Donovan Rossa had on MacSwiney’s outlook on life, politics and revolution,” said Mr Doherty.
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 74day hunger strike in October 1920. But this is something which the organisers of the Terence MacSwiney Weekend want to rectify.
This year’s event will feature a discussion of his poetry, with readings of some examples. A discussion of the context and verse will be provided by Dr Mary Breen, who taught literature at University College Cork’s School of English from 1993 to 2017.
A poem commissioned by Kilmurry Historical and Archaeological Association will also be heard for the first time. Award-winning local poet John Fitzgerald’s poem
was inspired by the police code cipher in MacSwiney’s possession at his final arrest, and by the indecipherable patterns of a piece of rock art in the Kilmurry parish.
“The poem doesn’t seek to make any political statement, simply to register the existence of this unique stone in our midst, the extraordinary courage of one of our own, and the perpetually unresolved question of self-sacrifice, itself a kind of cipher,” John Fitzgerald said.
On Saturday afternoon, those attending the Terence MacSwiney Weekend will be given a tour of places of significance to his life and his family in the area.
It will include a talk by local historian Michael Galvin at Clodagh Castle near Crookstown (weather permitting), once the seat of the MacSwiney clan. The house in Kilmurry village where MacSwiThe ney’s grandparents once lived will be seen, followed by a visit to St Mary’s graveyard where his ancestors are buried.
Kilmurry Historical and Archaeological Association (KHAA) chairperson Deirdre Bourke 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,” Ms Bourke said.
Those attending this inaugural event can also enjoy the exhibition of artefacts of, and related to, Terence MacSwiney which are prominently displayed at Independence Museum Kilmurry.
It was officially opened in August 2016 by President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins, providing a state-of-the-art exhibition space to a collection gathered over more than 50 years by Kilmurry Historical & Archaeological Association. The collection was previously housed in the Terence MacSwiney Memorial Museum in the village, where MacSwiney’s ancestors once lived, which was opened by his only child Máire MacSwiney Brugha in 1965.
The Terence MacSwiney exhibition space at Independence Museum Kilmurry, which hosts the inaugural Terence MacSwiney weekend on October 19-21. Details on Eventbrite.ie or www.kilmurrymuseum.ie
Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Mick Finn, who will attend the Terence MacSwiney Weekend at Independence Museum Kilmurry (October 19-21).