Category Archives: National

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 9 March 2023

1192a. Front cover of Kieran’s new book Championing Ireland - Chambers Ireland 100 Years Advancing Business Together (Chambers Ireland, 2023).
1192a. Front cover of Kieran’s new book Championing Ireland – Chambers Ireland 100 Years Advancing Business Together (Chambers Ireland, 2023).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 9 March 2023

Recasting Cork: The Irish Chambers of Commerce Come Together

This month Chambers Ireland celebrates its centenary since its formation in early 1923. At the heart of its foundational story is Cork Chamber of Commerce as well as four other Irish chambers of commerce.  This story is the subject of a book commission I have been engaged with Chambers Ireland, and which has recently been published.

After the separation from Westminster government policy, the creation of an Irish government and against the backdrop of the lingering physical effects of war on businesses in townscapes and cityscapes, it became apparent that work similar to that performed by the British Association of Chambers of Commerce would have to be performed by an Irish association in Dublin.

In early November 1922 at a meeting of the Council members of the Cork Chamber of Commerce expressed its approval of the early formation of an Irish association of commerce. There is a reference that they supported the move as far back as May 1922 similar to a call by the Dublin Chamber of Commerce. It was hoped that such an association would represent not just a section of Ireland but the whole of Ireland.

            The suggestion of the Dublin Chamber that the association should include only those bodies within the 26 counties was not supported by the Cork Chamber. The Cork Chamber argued that such a suggestion would mean the endorsement of the commercial partition of Ireland into 26 and six counties, respectively, referred to in political circles as southern and northern Ireland.

In January 1923, just one month into the official Irish Free State, the Chambers of Cork, Drogheda, Dundalk, Dublin, Limerick, New Ross, Sligo and Waterford expressed their intention to co-operate and to draft a new combination for a chamber of commerce for Ireland and to create a level of excellence for commercial development.

On 1 March 1923, representatives of the above chambers of commerce assembled in the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin for a morning meeting to discuss the question of establishing an Association to include both the chambers of commerce of the six counties of Northern Ireland as well as those of the Irish Free State.

Mr James Shanks, JP, Dublin, presided. During the meeting all present agreed to create the Association of the Chambers of Commerce of the Irish Free State.

Mr John Callaghan Foley, President of the Cork Chamber of Commerce, felt that since Ireland had left the United Kingdom, and had secured full fiscal autonomy, that there was a necessity for such an association in order to keep in touch with the different ministries of Dáil Éireann. His wish was that any new association would be able to speak and to act with the full combined authority of all the Chambers, on behalf of the commercial interests of the country.

John moved an amendment to the effect that the Association be called “The Association of Irish Chambers of Commerce”, instead of “The Association of Chambers of Commerce of the Irish Free State”.

John believed there should not be any coercion used by the Association. They in the south of the country traded with Northern Ireland with the “greatest harmony and friendship”, and he was sure that spirit would always continue. A chamber of commerce of the Free State would operate in the four provinces, and that they should have a title covering the whole country.

At the Shelbourne Hotel meeting a deputation consisting of the Presidents of the “southern chambers” was appointed to discuss the question with the Northern representatives. The upshot a few weeks later was a reply by the Northern Chambers they could not “usefully merge themselves in an Association such as that suggested and that having regard to the community of interests, fiscal and otherwise, in Northern Ireland and Great Britain as a distinctive federation of Northern Chambers was considered necessary”.

On 9 October 1923, the first meeting of the Association’s Executive Council was held. The Chambers of Commerce in Dublin, Cork and Limerick and the Cork Incorporated Chamber of Commerce and Shipping were noted as the first members. The President was John Good TD (Dublin); the Vice Presidents were John Callaghan Foley of Cork Chamber of Commerce and George R Ryan of Limerick Chamber of Commerce.

The Association had as its object the criticism of the Irish Government economic policy in a constructive manner, and to endeavour whenever possible to place its views before Government ministers. It was necessary to do this before the Minister’s views had crystallised, and before any proposed bill was actually drafted. Once a bill was drafted Ministers, to a certain extent, were bound by it.

The above story is a part of a wider book publication, which is now available from Chambers Ireland in Dublin. This publication adds another important lens to exploring life in the early Irish Free State – hitherto unexplored – on how such an organisation founded in an era of profound change for Irish society evolved over ten decades taking in the needs and challenges of the business sector and their voices. This book draws on the archives of Chambers Ireland and in particular from its rich press coverage and its elaborately published journals and magazines over the past one hundred years. It highlights the big stories of the chamber’s past but also the subtler elements – the messages, the conversations, and speeches.

In the age of national and provincial newspapers now being digitised, it is more accessible than ever before to not only find relevant historical information but also follow threads of information to be able to explore sub-topics more. The National Library, Dublin and the British Library also hold very rich content from non-consecutive runs of the national association’s journal and magazine productions from 1926 to the present day.

Championing Ireland – Chambers Ireland 100 Years Advancing Business Together (2023) by Kieran McCarthy is a book commission and is published by Chambers Ireland.


1192a. Front cover of Kieran’s new book Championing Ireland – Chambers Ireland 100 Years Advancing Business Together (Chambers Ireland, 2023).

Cllr McCarthy: Local Enterprise Week Supports New Opportunities, 1 March 2023

Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy has called Local Enterprise Week as a very important calendar of the work of Cork City’s Local Enterprise Office, which is based in City Hall. Organised every year by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices across the country, this year’s Local Enterprise Week takes place from Monday, 6 March to Friday, 10 March.

Cllr McCarthy noted: “Local Enterprise Week has built a profile as a highlight of the Cork business calendar in recent years and this year is no different. The Week is a chance to reinforce a valuable supportive atmosphere. The continuance to support talent and improve expertise is highly important as new challenges and new opportunities arise”.

All of the week’s events are free but booking in advance is essential.  For further information on the LEO Cork City’s complete programme of events for Local Enterprise Week and to book your place online. Visit

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 15 December 2022

1181a. Seán Hales, c.1920 (source: Cork City Library).
1181a. Seán Hales, c.1920 (source: Cork City Library).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 15 December 2022

Journeys to an Irish Free State: Assassinations and Executions

On 7 December 1922 Ballinadee born Sean Hales (1880–1922) TD and Member of the Commission of Agriculture was assasinated in Dublin. It came on the back of orders from Liam Lynch that Republican gunmen assassinate all deputies and senators who voted for the Public Safety Act (on 28 September 1922). Such an act created military courts with the authority to enforce the death penalty.

The Dictionary of Irish Biography describes that from an early age Seán Hales participated in the Republican movement. He became captain of the Ballinadee volunteer company in 1916. After the 1916 rising he was imprisoned for a time in Frongoch internment camp in Wales. After his release and some time at home, Seán became a leading local Sinn Féin volunteer. With his family, he also played a prominent part with the anti-landlord Unpurchased Tenants’ Association and anti-British Bandon People’s Food Committee. The local Sinn Féin cumann soon took over the Southern Star newspaper and Seán was a member of the new board of directors.

In 1919 Seán became battalion commander of the first (Bandon) battalion Cork no. 3 with successful manoeuvres in Timoleague, Brinny and at Newcestown Cross.

Arising from his successful ambushes in 1920 Seán became section commander of the West Cork flying column. He participated in the Crossbarry Ambush on 19 March 1921.

In reprisal for the burning of the Hales home in March 1921, Seán commandeered a contingent of Volunteers and burned Castle Bernard, the residence of the earl of Bandon. He held Lord Bandon hostage until General Strickland backed down on executing volunteers in Cork prison. The ploy paid off and the policy in executing prisoners in the Cork area ended.

In June 1920, Seán was elected to the Bandon county electoral area. In May 2021, he was nominated to Dáil Éireann as a Sinn Féin candidate in the May 1921 elections.

Seán was the only Cork brigadier to support the treaty and was elected in June 1922 as a coalition treaty candidate for Cork mid, north, south, south-east and west. During the Civil War he headed up the removal of anti-treaty forces from Skibbereen, Clonakilty, and Bandon. He was appointed to the commission of agriculture in October 1922.

Following Seán’s assassination on 7 December, his requiem mass on 11 December was held at Cork’s North Cathedral. The Cork Examiner reports that the coffin on a catafalque was draped in the tricolour, with the Brigadier’s cap placed on it. Around it was a guard of honour. Nearby knelt officers participating as chief mourners of the army. At the foot of the coffin stood three members of the National Army with arms reversed. In the nave of the church a big detachment of troops assisted at the Mass. At the Consecration a bugler from the gallery sounded the salute and Last Post.

After the funeral, Seán’s coffin was placed on the bier. Troops with two bands, brass and reed and pipers, passed down to John Redmond Street. The procession then headed towards Victoria Cross. Here a motor ambulance waited to bear the remains from there to the family burial place at St Patrick’s cemetery, Bandon. On 19 January 1930, a life-size commemorative statue was unveiled in Seán’s honour at Bank (latterly Seán Hales) Place, Bandon.

Seán’s assassination on 7 December was a major catalyst in the escalation nationally of the Civil War. On 8 December 1922, in retaliation for Sean’s assassination, the Irish Free State government ordered the execution, without trial, four prominent anti-treaty prisoners, Richard Barrett, Joseph McKelvey, Liam Mellows and Rory O’Connor. The Dictionary of Irish Biography has detailed descriptions of all four individuals.

Ballineen born Richard Barrett (1889-1922) was a quartermaster of Cork No. 3 Brigade, becoming a vital part in the war of Independence in the south and west. A steadfast anti-treatyite, he became assistant quartermaster-general to Liam Mellows, and was stationed in the Four Courts Dublin in June 1922. Arrested on 30 June, he was taken to Mountjoy prison, where as part of the prisoners’ jail council he attempted several escape attempts but with no success.

Tyrone-born Joseph McKelvey (1898-1922) was selected as commandant of the 3rd Northern Division of the IRA in 1921. Initially he supported the Anglo–Irish treaty, but after the creation of the anti-treaty IRA executive (April 1922) he departed his divisional post and was became assistant chief of staff of the anti-treaty IRA. After the surrender of Dublin’s Four Courts on 30 June 1922, Joseph was arrested and jailed in Mountjoy.

Lancashire born Liam Mellows (1892-1922) was raised across Wexford, Dublin and Cork. He was educated in Cork at the military school in Wellington Barracks and lived for a time on St Joseph’s Terrace, Ballyhooley Road. In 1918 he was elected MP for Galway East and for Meath and on his return was appointed to the staff as director of arms purchases at IRA Headquarters. 

Dublin born Rory O’Connor (1883-1922) was clerk of Dáil Éireann during its underground sessions of 1919. He operated in the engineering section of the Dáil Éireann department of local government and assisted in the control of food supplies. In the early months of 1922 O’Connor was the principal promoter in the group of high-ranking IRA officers who opposed the Anglo–Irish treaty. He was elected chairman of the acting military council established by the dissidents.

Celebrating Cork (2022, Amberley Publishing) by Kieran McCarthy is now available is now available in any good bookshop.


1181a. Seán Hales, c.1920 (source: Cork City Library).

1181b. Liam Mellows, Rory O’Connor, Joe McKelvey & Richard Barrett (source: Cork City Library).

1181b. Liam Mellows, Rory O’Connor, Joe McKelvey & Richard Barrett (source: Cork City Library).
1181b. Liam Mellows, Rory O’Connor, Joe McKelvey & Richard Barrett (source: Cork City Library).

Kieran’s Open Letter & Submission to NTA on Bus Connects, Cork, 3 October 2022

Image: Proposed path to be destroyed at Ballybrack Woods, Douglas to facilitate bridge proposal from Grange Road to Carrigaline Road (picture: Kieran McCarthy)
Image: Proposed path to be destroyed at Ballybrack Woods, Douglas to facilitate bridge proposal from Grange Road to Carrigaline Road (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

Dear Bus Connects Team,

As a public representative for the south east of Cork City and having two and a quarter bus corridors in my area, it’s difficult to know where to start with my representation.

At the outset I do acknowledge the need for improving the city’s public transport. Indeed, I was one of the core political members, who connected the European Commission to Cork City with regard to the Horizon Europe mission of being 100 Climate Neutral Cities by 2030. So, I am acutely aware of the steep uphill journey the city has to travel to be climate neutral and to work closely between the public and all the stakeholders involved to make sure a strong partnership is maintained.

To be honest at this moment in time I see a very fragmented partnership between the general public and the stakeholders involved in Cork Bus Connects. That partnership and dialogue seriously needs to improve if this epic project is going to get across the line.

To begin with in early July the scatter gun communication to the public via unsigned two-page documents, circulated in a hit and miss way to directly affected houses especially those whose gardens may be part of a CPO process, led to much mistrust and much frustration of the consultation process. Mistrust and frustration has led to further mistrust and frustration. So yes, there is a sense of “you are taking my land” in many cases but moreover there is a case of “you are not reaching out enough to me”.

Coupled with that I have found that the multitude of people who have contacted me unable to read the series of produced maps and unable to digest the many devils in the detail of the different corridors. In effect, I have spent three months in a continuous loop trying to get information to local people via flyering, knocking on doors and hosting a multitude of public meetings – many on the side of affected roads.

Having a public consultation in mid-July led to many local people just becoming aware of the proposals when they came back from holidays in early September. The obligatory ads on bus stops and in newspaper gave nothing of the depth of the detail in the proposals. The info meetings in Nemo Rangers and the subsequent for the bus corridors in my area led to further feedback around the lines of the NTA “don’t know what they are doing”. The engineers who were present were not briefed enough on how to temper the public frustration. So, I remain adamant in my call for the communication team to resign or be completely overhauled.

I have received some positive feedback from the zoom meetings, but the overall feedback I am getting is that because of the scale of the proposals, the NTA should have offices in the heart of affected communities, so people can meet people face to face as these dramatic proposals are being negotiated over the next two years. It is not good enough that the process is being conducted from board rooms of sorts in Dublin. If the NTA are really serious about Bus Connects Cork in Ireland’s second city, the need for a publicly accessible office is crucial.

The various compulsory purchase order proposals are of serious concern to all my constituents and the amount of these proposals is a high price to pay for the implementation of Cork Bus Connects. Having a good garden is a core historical part of suburban design in Cork through the past few decades. Coupled with that the stone encircling walls are unique as well the trees and hedgerows. The overall proposal to remove over 1,000 trees between Ballinlough, Douglas and Grange is high handed environmental vandalism at its worst and I what I deem a very serious attack on Cork’s historic suburban sense of place and quality of life. I acknowledge that there would be replacement but would take several years for said replacement trees to catch on and ecosystems to catch on.

 Indeed, even the thought of 1,000 trees literally being culled has emotionally upset many people by the vision of an almost urban ruinous tree landscape. In an age where trees, biodiversity and wildlife are core aspects of National, regional and local climate action plans, the proposal pitch, for example, to build a bridge across Ballybrack Woods or the Mangala is very disappointing. That this is deemed a proposal has painted a picture to many of my constituent of lack of caring of the importance of ecology and biodiversity to a suburb such as Douglas or to Cork City. The same sentiment could be applied to the proposals to wipe out biodiversity along Douglas Road, Boreenmanna Road and Well Road.

There is a very clear worry on the removal of on-street car parking, which needs a lot more public consultation.

 There are many devils in the detail of Cork Bus Connects. I sincerely ask a way improved partnership with the general public. I ask that a detailed response be given to each maker of a submission, and a complete over haul of the communication process. The current mistrust and frustration, even anger needs to be negotiated with empathy and fairness for all involved.



Dr Kieran McCarthy

Member, Cork City Council

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 1 September 2022

1166a. Painting of Michael Collins by Sir John Lavery, August 1922 (picture: Hugh Lane Gallery).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 1 September 2022

Journeys to a Free State: The Burial of Michael Collins

The morning after the death of Michael Collins in Béal na mBláth on 22 August, his body lay in Cork City’s Shanakiel Hospital. From an early hour on 23 August, the surrounding roads leading to the hospital were packed with people.

The Cork Examiner records that some members of the public were admitted to the hospital grounds and a few had the honour to enter the room, where the body was lying in state. Officers of the National Army formed a guard of honour and the room was laden with floral tributes and choice blooms. Michael’s comrades including Major General Dalton, were present. Many citizens passed in and said a silent heartfelt prayer and departed again. A number of clergy were also present, including Most Rev Dr Cohalan, Bishop of Cork.

Meanwhile National Army troops lined up along the sweeping avenue to the hospital. About noon, the prayers for the dead having been said by Rev Scannell of Farranferris and the assembled clergy, the lid was placed on the coffin and removed to the hearse. The pall bearers were Major General Dalton, Colonel Commandant Kingston, General Liam Tobin, Colonel Commandant Vincent Byrne, Colonel Commandant Seán O’Connell and Lieutenant Commandant Dolan.

The order was given to the troops to reverse arms and the coffin was brought out followed by a group of nurses carrying the wreaths. The hearse moved down the ranks of the troops, and the military funeral procession went on its way.

As it proceeded on to Sunday’s Well, over Thomas Davis Bridge, Western Road, Washington Street, St Patrick’s Street, and down to Penrose Quay, where the remains were to be put on board a ship to be taken to Dublin, there were repeated deep lines of sorrow by the general public.

When it became known in the city that the body was going to be taken to Dublin by the SS Classic, people in large numbers thronged the quays, and by the time the funeral cortege approached St Patrick’s Quay and Merchants Quay mass crowds were present. The approaches to Penrose Quay were, however, guarded by National troops, and to prevent congestion, the public were not allowed nearer the SS Classic than the Brian Boru Bridge.

The SS Classic arrived from Fishguard at 10.30am, and the news of the death of General Collins caused grief amongst the passengers, many of whom were visibly affected.  Captain Harrison was asked by the National Army for the vessel to convey the remains of Michael Collins to Dublin, and the necessary preparations were at once made.

At 1pm an armed guard with a machine gun went on board, and a little later the armoured car Slievenamon with her crew arrived, the armoured car being was also placed on board the vessel.

Throughout Cork all places of business were closed as a mark of respect to the memory of Michael Collins. The tricolour was flown at half-mast from all the buildings occupied by the National troops.

As the crowds became denser, members of the newly-formed Cork Civic Patrol, under Mr Jeremiah Murphy, assisted the military in keeping the quays clear. Their task was, however, an easy one, for the mourning citizens had only to be told once that their presence on Penrose quay would delay the troops and the transfer of the coffin to the ship.

Shortly after 1pm the funeral cortege moved slowly down Penrose Quay. Bishop Cohalan and several priests walked in front of the coffin, which was covered with the tricolour and borne in a hearse drawn by a pair of black horses. Behind it walked the relatives and friends of the deceased, well-known public men and political sympathisers, and finally the troops with arms reversed.

The Bishop, priests, and friends of General Collins went immediately on board. At 1.15pm the coffin was removed from the hearse, and was borne on the shoulders of General Dalton, General Tobin, Staff Captain McGrath, Commandant Friel, Staff Captain Courtney, and Captain Conroy to the vessel. It was received on board by the Bishop and the ship immediately departed.

Before the Waterford coast had been reached, a wireless message was picked up to the effect that the SS Lady Wicklow was on her way to Cork to convey the remains to Dublin, and that members of the Provisional Government were aboard. Passing Waterford, the SS Lady Wicklow was hailed and instructions communicated to her to return to Dublin. She immediately stopped and started her return journey. The SS Classic reached the mouth of Dublin Bay at 1am on 24 August.

The Cork Examiner records that the body passed through the silent streets of Dublin in the early morning. Over the cobbled quays the gun carriage, carrying the flag draped coffin, made its way. Despite the hour and the uncertainty of the time of arrival along the streets there were gathered with large groups of people.

The procession passed along the silent streets to St Vincent’s Hospital, Stephen’s Green. The remains lay in the mortuary with a guard of honour of military officers until about half-past nine the following morning, when they were removed to the Community Chapel.

Before the coffin was removed from the mortuary the blessing was given by Rev John McLaughlin, Acting Chaplain. Before being removed from the mortuary to the chapel the remains of Michael Collins were embalmed. In addition, Sir John Lavery painted the picture of Michael Collins as the body lay the coffin in the community chapel.

Michael Collins’ remains were removed at 7pm that evening to Dublin City Hall, where they laid in state until the following Sunday evening. They were then taken to the Pro-Cathedral. Solemn High Mass was be celebrated at 11am on the Monday morning, 28 August 1922 after which Michael Collins was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.


1166a. Painting of Michael Collins by Sir John Lavery, August 1922 (picture: Hugh Lane Gallery).

Kieran’s Press, A history-making time for our city’: New exhibition launched in Cork Public Museum, 21 August 2022

21 August 2022, “Sometimes in the history of Cork, we tend to silo-ise that history, we talk about the Burning of Cork, the deaths of Tomás Mac Curtain and Terence MacSwiney, which were really important, there’s also the Civil War aspect and the fallout of that, but someone had to pick up the pieces, and we don’t always talk about the people who picked up the pieces,” Cllr McCarthy said, A history-making time for our city’: New exhibition launched in city museum,  ‘A history-making time for our city’: New exhibition launched in city museum (

Second Call Out – Kieran’s National Heritage Week Events, 13 August-21 August 2022

Saturday 13 August 2022, A Tour of Cork City Hall as part of Cork Heritage Open Day, with Cllr Kieran McCarthy, 10am, meet at entrance at Anglesea Street (90 minutes, booking required at Cork Heritage Open Day website with Cork City Council, from 3 August 2022). Update, 5 August, booked out.

Sunday 14 August 2022, Cork Through the Ages, An Introduction to the Historical Development of Cork City; meet at the National Monument with Cllr Kieran McCarthy, Grand Parade, 6.30pm (free, 2 hours, no booking required). 

Monday 15 August 2022, Shandon Historical Walking Tour with Cllr Kieran McCarthy; explore Cork’s most historic quarter; meet at North Main Street/ Adelaide Street Square, opp Cork Volunteer Centre, 6.30pm (free, duration: two hours, no booking required).  

Tuesday 16 August 2022, The Northern Ridge – St Patrick’s Hill to MacCurtain Street; Historical walking tour with Cllr Kieran McCarthy of the area around St Patrick’s Hill – Old Youghal Road to McCurtain Street; meet on the Green at Audley Place, top of St Patrick’s Hill, 6.30pm (free , duration: two hours, no booking required). 

Thursday 18 August 2022, Views from a Park – The Black Ash and Tramore Valley Park, historical walking tour with Cllr Kieran McCarthy in association with the KinShip Project; meet at Halfmoon Lane gate, 6.30pm (free, duration: 90 minutes no booking required). 

Saturday 20 August 2022, Douglas and its History, historical walking tour with Cllr Kieran McCarthy in association with Douglas Tidy Towns; Discover the history of industry and the development of this historic village, meet in the carpark of Douglas Community Centre, 2pm (free, duration: two hours, no booking required, circuit of village, finishes nearby). 

Sunday 21 August 2022, The Battle of Douglas, An Irish Civil War Story, historical walking tour with Cllr Kieran McCarthy, meet at carpark and entrance to Old Railway Line, Harty’s Quay, Rochestown; 2pm, (free, 2 hours, no booking required, finishes near Rochestown Road). 

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 20 January 2022

1134a. Mary MacSwiney (centre) entering the Treaty debate buildings at Dublin’s University Buildings, Earlsfort Terrace, late December 1921 (picture: Hogan collection, National Library of Ireland).
1134a. Mary MacSwiney (centre) entering the Treaty debate buildings at Dublin’s University Buildings, Earlsfort Terrace, late December 1921 (picture: Hogan collection, National Library of Ireland).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 20 January 2022

Journeys to a Free State: Mary MacSwiney Speaks

Last week’s column highlighted the Treaty vote that was taken and the intervention of Cork TD Mary MacSwiney expressing her disappointment and full support for the ideals of Éamon de Valera. Mary MacSwiney was one of the earliest speakers to take the floor on the Treaty debate. She intervened just after the vote on 7 January and remained vocally against the Treaty for years to come. She first took the floor on Wednesday 21 December 1921. A transcript of her passionate, very detailed, well thought out, articulate and highly frank intervention comes to over 15,500 words. She spoke at length for two hours and forty minutes. The full speech can be viewed under Treaty debates at

Mary’s speech expressing her opinions varied across a range of topics, from noting the Treaty was just like creating a renewed Act of Union to not trusting the Westminster administration, to the Treaty being a betrayal of the principles of Irish Republicanism, to being highly critical of the oath and the role of the Governor General. A case can be made that her speech galvanised the more die-hard Republican side of Dáil Éireann in voting against the Treaty. Certainly, the points she makes are almost like a manifesto for the Republican cause. Her points were raised by others against the Treaty – not in the same level of detail – as the Treaty debate evolved and concluded in early January 1921.

Mary opened her speech by commenting on the idea that the ratification of the Treaty document would create a quasi-Grattan’s Parliament or a Home Rule situation, something that would not represent everyone from north to south and was not total freedom. She argued that such a parliament was not a parliament of the people. She noted: “Grattan’s Parliament was a Parliament representing, or supposed to be representing, only one-fifth of the people of Ireland, and even then, by means of undemocratic elections. It did not faithfully represent even 20 per cent of the Irish people”.

A second core point made by Mary was that in her opinion those in the Dáil chamber were there on the will of the people expressed in a vote in December 1918 – that the assembly was elected on a Republican cause. She noted: “Therefore, this assembly is not, as has been already pointed out, competent to deal with the matter at all. We are not the Members elected to sit in the Parliament of Southern Ireland. We are the Members elected to sit in the assembly of the Irish Republic”.

At times in Mary’s speech, it could be argued that she crossed the line in calling Deputies and the Westminster government out. On Prime Minster Lloyd George, she articulates that he cannot be trusted. She notes: “As far as we in Ireland are concerned, the office which he holds never has been an honourable office, but in his own country it is supposed to be so. And never has a more unscrupulous scoundrel sat in the seats of the mighty than Lloyd George. There is no Government in Europe that trusts his word”.

On the First World War, she regretted that Irish citizens took a part in it and noted that Ireland was led to approve the war. She notes: “The country was stampeded into approval of the war. I was in England when the war broke out. I could not tell you the anguish of souls I experienced when I came home and walked down the streets of Dublin and of Cork and saw the friends of my lifetime sporting the Union Jack…we were not British by the act of our own people. Even then we had not declared common citizenship, with fidelity to the King of England”.

Following her thoughts on the First World War, she noted that the 1916 Easter Rising stood out in the annals of the world. She noted: “A small minority of the people of Ireland realised that they had to strike, and strike at once, that if they waited for the war to be over England would have her countless legions turned against us. They decided on rising; that rising was largely rendered futile by the acts of people at the last moment who tried to stop it. Yet the battle was fought, and Easter Week, 1916, stands out in the annals of the world”.

On the Articles of Agreement/ Treay, Mary argues that the document will not create peace and that unity alone can bring peace. She notes: “The men with the stake in the country know perfectly well that as long as we Republicans stand out and say this is not peace, and it will not make peace, there will be no peace, and the men with the stake in the country will know perfectly well that unity alone can defeat this awful breach now”.

Mary was also critical of the idea that the Irish delegation to the Treaty negotiations were unable to put in amendments – that the threat of war hung over the proceedings; She expressed the viewpoint: “It is the sympathy of the world and the judgment and conscience of the world that brought England to her knees in these negotiations. She has the military. I know that, but she cannot win this battle, for if she exterminates the men, the women will take their places, and, if she exterminates the women, the children are rising fast…Therefore our fight to-day has a chance of victory. You have told us it is between the acceptance of that document and war. If it were, with every sense of deep responsibility, I say then let us take war”.

Mary touched upon a range of other topics also but ultimately concluded her speech with an appeal for the Treaty to be rejected: “I pray that we will stand together, and the country will stand behind us. I have no doubt of that. I know the women of Ireland, and I know what they will say to the men that want to surrender, and therefore I beg of you to take the decision to throw out that Treaty. Register your votes against it, and do not commit the one unforgivable crime that has ever been committed by the representatives of the people of Ireland”.

Cork TD Mary MacSwiney’s full speech can be read at

Missed one of the 51 columns in 2021, check out the indices at Kieran’s heritage website,


1134a. Mary MacSwiney (centre) entering the Treaty debate buildings at Dublin’s University Buildings, Earlsfort Terrace, late December 1921 (picture: Hogan collection, National Library of Ireland).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 9 December 2021

1129a. An artist at the Illustrated London News captured the British and Irish Treaty negotiation teams at work (source: Illustrated London News, December 1921).
1129a. An artist at the Illustrated London News captured the British and Irish Treaty negotiation teams at work (source: Illustrated London News, December 1921).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 9 December 2021

Journeys to a Truce: A Provisional Treaty is Signed

The first memo to the public was a short one on the outcome of the talks of the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921. It was hurriedly penned by Arthur Griffith, and issued to the world press directly after signing the Treaty on 6 December. It reads: “I have signed a Treaty of peace between Ireland and Great Britain. I believe that treaty will lay foundations of peace and friendship between the two Nations. What I have signed I shall stand by in the belief that the end of the conflict of centuries is at hand”.

It was a long and highly pressurised journey to an agreement for both sides. The threat of renewed violence hung over the signatories. The Treaty negotiations began in London on 11 October 1921. The British team was led by seasoned politicians Lloyd George and included Austen Chamberlain and Winston Churchill.

The Irish team was chaired by Minister for Foreign Affairs Arthur Griffith, after de Valera decided to stay in Ireland for strategic reasons. Arthur had established Sinn Féin in 1905 and nationally brought the party to the pinnacle of success in elections in 1920. Arthur was substitute president of Dáil Éireann for most of the War of Independence while de Valera was in America. With Arthur in London were Minister for Economic Affairs, Robert Barton and Minister for Finance Michael Collins. The other two Irish negotiators were solicitor Éamonn Duggan TD and Charles Gavan Duffy TD, a barrister and Dáil Éireann’s representative in Rome. The Dáil and de Valera described these representatives as ‘plenipotentiaries’, from the Latin for someone invested with full authority.

Over the seven weeks of negotiations, regional newspapers across the country reported on the tense negotiations and what was at stake between the two sides. The challenge of North Ireland and its historic loyalist base echoed throughout the myriad of news stories.

The discussions concluded in the early morning of 6 December 1921 with the signatures, by British and Irish negotiators, of ‘Articles of Agreement’ – better known as the Anglo-Irish Treaty (or the Treaty). The deal, as signed, was provisional, on consent in London’s Westminster and in Dublin’s Dáil Éireann.

The Anglo-Irish Treaty is a short document. It commences by declaring that the Irish Free State shall have the same constitutional status as the dominions of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Union of South Africa. This was a higher status than the previously sought ‘Home Rule’ for Ireland, and an achievement that was unimaginable when Sinn Féin was founded sixteen years earlier. The representative of the king in Ireland would be appointed in the same way as the governor-general of Canada.

Under the Treaty, Ireland also remained in the British Empire. For the first time in an official UK document the term ‘Commonwealth’ was used as an alternative to ‘Empire’. The final agreement did not require Dáil deputies to swear an ‘oath of allegiance’ to the king. The oath of allegiance was to the Constitution of the Irish Free State, with an oath of faithfulness to the monarch. Nevertheless, any oath to the king in any shape or form offended many Dáil deputies in their initial thoughts to the press.

The Treaty also gave the new state financial freedom, although the Irish agreed to pay a fair share of existing UK public debt.

Until the Irish Free State could undertake its own coastal defence, article six ensured that British forces were responsible for the defence by sea of Britain and Ireland. The Free State was also to let Britain use certain named harbours and other facilities. Initial thoughts by some Dáil deputies resented that Britain would retain ‘the Treaty ports’ of Cobh (then ‘Queenstown’), Berehaven and Lough Swilly. The issue of the Treaty ports was important because it made Irish neutrality quite impractical if not impossible in the event of war.

The Irish Free State agreed to pay fair compensation to public servants who were discharged or who retired because the change of government was not to their liking. This ‘article’ did not apply to the Auxiliaries and Black and Tans.

The Treaty gave Northern Ireland the right to opt out of the new Irish state; if it did so, however, a boundary commission was to be set up to “determine in accordance with the wishes of the inhabitants […] the boundaries between Northern Ireland and the rest of Ireland”. Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins believed that this would transfer counties Tyrone and Fermanagh to the Free State. But the procedure was a major sticking point for many Dáil deputies in their initial thoughts to the press. Even after 1922, however, the Boundary Commission never worked as they had hoped, and the border remained unchanged.

Overall, though in the days that followed the signing on 6 December, the Irish negotiators though not happy with the terms, were told by Lloyd George that non-acceptance would lead to a resumption of the war, which, at the point the Truce was called, was being lost by the IRA. The delegation recommended the Treaty to Dáil Éireann.

In those early days post the signing, a minority of Dáil deputies, including its president, Éamon de Valera, maintained that the Treaty did not go far enough and that the new state must be a republic outside the Empire (although perhaps associated with the Commonwealth externally). Some thought that fighting should resume, in an effort to force Northern Ireland into an all-island state. For others, an Irish Republic already existed and acceptance of the Treaty would substitute this with something less and accepting the Treaty meant voluntarily going ‘into the Empire’ for the first time.

The majority of deputies argued that the Treaty was a stepping-stone to greater independence. Between the signing of the agreement in December 1921 and its ratification in early January 1922 a series of progressively bitter debates occurred in Dáil Éireann.


1129a. An artist at the Illustrated London News captured the British and Irish Treaty negotiation teams at work (source: Illustrated London News, December 1921).

Cllr McCarthy to Discuss History of Cork City Hall for Virtual Cork Heritage Open Day

Local historian Cllr Kieran McCarthy will participate in the virtual Cork Heritage Open Day this Saturday 14 August. Cork Heritage Open Day which is organised by Cork City Council in partnership with the Heritage Council. The website will go live on Saturday 14 August and will feature virtual guided tours of over 45 historic buildings from all over Cork City. Members of the public are allowed a glimpse of some of Cork’s most fascinating buildings ranging from the medieval to the military.

Kieran will participate by showcasing some of the stories connected to Cork City Hall as an important heritage building within the city. Kieran noted: “Cork has had a number of City Hall sites through the ages but none as grand as the present one. In 1883, it was decided by a number of Cork businessmen that the Corn Exchange should be converted into an exhibition centre, a centre, which in 1892 became Cork’s City Hall. In December 1920, the premises were burned down by fires attributed to the Black and Tans as retribution for republican attacks. A new City Hall by architects Jones and Kelly was subsequently built. The limestone like for so many of Cork’s buildings is from nearby Little Island. The foundation stone of Cork City Hall was laid by Éamon de Valera on 9 July 1932”.

Maryborough Hotel will also feature in this year’s Heritage Open Day. For the first time, the Open Day will also celebrate the natural heritage of Cork and members of the public can enjoy a wonderful virtual guided tour of the Mangala in Douglas with William O’Halloran.

In addition, for National Heritage Week, Kieran has partnered with Meitheal Mara and Joya Kuin in putting together two audio heritage trails. The first is on the various historic sites down The Marina and this came out in early June. Their Heritage Week Audio Heritage Trail is on the 31 bridges of Cork. All you need is a smart phone and a set of head phones. The bridges audio trail can be found on Kieran’s website under history trails from 14 August.