Category Archives: Cork History

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 Submission, Odlum’s & R & H Hall Development, January 2022

Director of Planning,

Planning and Development Directorate,
Cork City Council, City Hall,

6 January 2022

Re: Planning Application at Odlum’s & R & H Hall, South Docks, 21/40702

Dear Director,

I write to comment on the proposed development project at Odlums and at R & H Hall. In general, I welcome the strong financial investment into South Docks. For me, Odlums and R & H Hall are core structures, which anchor the docks area in a strong sense of place. Much of the area has seen demolition over the years leaving the latter two structures and the historic Ford compound being left as core historic structures on South Docks.

I wish to thank the developers of the proposed Odlums and R & H Hall site for their extensive history and environmental studies, that have been submitted with their proposal. I note that the Odlums buildings is to be restored and utilised, and that is to be encouraged and welcomed.

 Looking through the engineering study on the grain silos, I note and respect how the silos were constructed and acknowledge the weakness of the concrete and their many limitations for re-use. However, such is the striking nature of the silos on South Docks, I am still very disappointed that they, if planning is sanctioned, will be taken down, which ultimately will change the sense of place not just in that locale but across South Docks. And it is the change in the sense of place that is irking me.

In that light I would ask that if any part of these industrial ruins of the silos can be utilised or recycled or if any old industrial equipment is salvageable that it be used within any new building and as some kind of sculptural/infrastructure installation/s on the quayside. I would love if the design of the proposed “Silo” buildings – would reflect as much of the R & H Hall buildings as possible. I would like to advocate that the City Council’s Archaeologist and Heritage Officer, respectively, would work with the developer on keeping as much of the historic sense of place as possible.



Cllr Kieran McCarthy

R & H Hall Grain Silos, Cork South Docks, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy)
R & H Hall Grain Silos, Cork South Docks, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 13 January 2022

1133a. Picture from the Treaty debate, Dublin, early January 1922 (picture: National Library of Ireland).
1133a. Picture from the Treaty debate, Dublin, early January 1922 (picture: National Library of Ireland).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 13 January 2022

Journeys to a Free State: A Treaty is Ratified

At ten minutes to 9pm on Saturday night, 7 January 1922, Dáil Éireann voted on the Articles of Agreement or peace treaty. It was ratified by 64 votes to 57. The division followed days of animated debate with the closing speakers being Cathal Brugha and Arthur Griffith. A total of 121 TDs out of 129 deputies recorded their votes. Out of the eight whose vote was not recorded five held dual representation to seats. One was the speaker, Eoin MacNeill who did not vote as his role would have been in a casting vote position. Just two deputies were technically unable to be present – one had expressed an opposing view on the Treaty and the other was in support – in their correspondence respectively.

The Cork Examiner records that each deputy of TD was allocated one vote. Some surprises arose during the polling, and it was evident that some deputies maintained secrecy as to how they would vote until they actually cast their vote vocally. When the decision of the assembly had been announced, the atmosphere again became electric, especially when President de Valera rose in his place, and made a speech, indicating that because of the verdict he would resign his office as Chief of the Executive of Dáil Éireann. He, however, had only concluded, when Michael Collins rose, and appealed for unity.

Cork’s Mary MacSwiney followed and in a short speech pointed out that they “could not unite the ideal of a Republic and a betrayal worse than Castlereagh’s [a reference to Viscount Castlereagh in LondonDerry]”. Her incisive comments again electrified the atmosphere. Mary had also given a long and passionate intervention against the Treaty in the days before the vote. De Valera again rose and announced that he would hold a meeting of his supporters on the following day at Dublin’s Mansion House. Another appeal for unity was made by Michael Collins as the assembly anxiously awaited the outcome of such interchanges.

The Cork Examiner records that De Valera again arose and in a very subdued voice said; “Before we rise I should like to say my last word” – but he only added one more sentence when he broke down, and resuming his seats placed his head between his hands resting on the table at which he thought for a moment. that for a moment it was the most intense scene, and it was only ended by the speaker’s announcement that the house would be adjourned until the subsequent Monday morning.

At that stage the Lord Mayor of Dublin Laurence O’Neil approached De Valera, took him by the arm and escorted him from the chamber. Deputies also departed and were followed by the public, with the result that the entire chamber was soon completely deserted. Along the corridors of the building many people, who were unable to gain admission to the chamber had congregated, while outside the university there was an immense gathering – each assemblage being most anxious to learn the decision of Dáil Éireann’s ratification question.

Outside the bulk of the public present appeared to approve of the action had been taken. Arthur Griffith was one of the first leaders is to leave in company with several of his supporters. He was the recipient of a great ovation especially when he made his appearance outside the main entrance to the vote venue at Dublin’s University Buildings, Earlsfort Terrace.

 Shortly afterwards De Valera took his departure and cheers were called for him. Similarly, cheers were extended to Michael Collins, who had great difficulty moving through the crowds to get to his motor car. No interviews were given to the press by De Valera or Collins at that point.

An interview was, however, given by the Lord Mayor of Cork, Donal Óg O’Callaghan. The Cork Examiner records that the Lord Mayor commented on the need to revisit the vote in the weeks ahead and made a call out for the public to remain calm: “Now that the decision has been given, there has been a terrible strain upon all participating in this debate. The forces at work were very strong. Personally, I deplore the decision. I think a great mistake has been made but I have the most profound confidence in my fellow country men and women, and I am satisfied that they desire absolute freedom now as fervently as ever – so for the moment they may desire the ratification of this treaty, owing to obvious circumstances and warweariness, and so on. That they never will be satisfied until what has been temporally undone tonight will be again established. I am firmly convinced that the aspiration of the Irish people will never be satisfied until the Irish Republic functions are recognised and unfettered.

Concluding the Lord Mayor offered some words of warning about maintaining discipline to the cause of the Irish Republic; “I hope the people of the country, and especially my fellow citizens in Cork will not allow the splendid discipline which has been our mainstay up to the present, and which alone enabled us to succeed as far as he did succeed, will continue on unimpaired, and that no acts, even of an isolated character will occur that might prove the starting point of a departure from this discipline which once lost could be regained only after much difficulty and after much loss. That discipline is no more than ever necessary if our country is not to be thrown into chaos”.

Back in Cork on Cork’s St Patrick’s Street the feeling of tension gradually increased as the evening wore on. From 7pm on large crowds of people congregated outside the Cork Examiner office waiting for the result of the vote.

The momentous news did not reach Cork till after 9pm, and its publication in a special extra edition of the Evening Echo gave rise to those waiting patiently for news on St Patrick’s Street. Within theatres and picture houses the news was relayed. At a packed Cork Opera House, comedians Iky and Will Scott, whilst performing during their introductory dialogue at their pantomime noted that “there was good news for Ireland”. Both shook hands on the stage. After announcing the ratification majority there was sustained and loud applause. Enthusiastic scenes were also witnessed at the Palace Theatre and at the picture houses, where the news had also been telephoned, and was promptly screened.

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


1133a. Picture from the Treaty debate, Dublin, early January 1922 (picture: National Library of Ireland).

Kieran’s Press, The Barrack Street Six – Dr Kieran McCarthy, 6-7 January 2022

LISTEN: “Skeletal remains were found under a former pub in Cork city. Dr Kieran McCarthy, historian and local councillor, spoke to Baz about the discovery and gave some context as to where the skeletons may have come from. Kieran has plenty of amazing resources on Cork on his website” The Barrack St Six – Dr Kieran McCarthy | The Ryan Tubridy Show – RTÉ Radio 1 (

or READ 6 January 2022, “The skeletal remains of six people found at the site of a former pub in Cork city in early October have all the makings of a “medieval mystery”, according to local historian, Kieran McCarthy”, Six skeletal remains found at site of former Cork pub ‘a medieval mystery’, by Olivia Kelleher, Six skeletal remains found at site of former Cork pub ‘a medieval mystery’ (

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 6 January 2022

1132a. J J Walsh, 1918 (source: Cork City and County Archives).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 6 January 2022

Journeys to a Free State: The Dilemmas of the Treaty

Dáil Éireann resumed its Treaty debate on 3 February 1922 after a short New Year break. A large crowd had assembled at Dublin’s University Buildings, Earlsfort Terrace. A bitterly cold wind was experienced, accompanied at intervals by showers. Inside a range of speakers for and against the Treaty took the floor. On this day, two Cork TDs intervened – J J Walsh, an advocate for the Treaty, and Lord Mayor and TD Donal Óg O’Callaghan, who was an advocate against the Treaty. Both gave extensive and passionate speeches and the detail of these are digitised at

On Deputy J J Walsh rising to take the floor, he spoke slowly and often spoke with his back to the reporters. He understood that they were there to express the voice of the people, and as he noted that they were there to represent the “consent of the country” – that they were there to speak about the majority will of the people.

Walsh noted thought he had made it his business to visit his constituents in the interval since they last met. The City of Cork, he believed, which had played an important part in the events of the previous four or five years, were in favour of the ratification of the treaty. He highlighted: “I have not though counted heads, have not taken a vote of the people; I would honestly say I feel that nine-tenths of the people of Cork City were in favour of the ratification”. Walsh continued that he had met prominent people in his constituency who had assured him that “they themselves had not met one single human being in Cork city opposed to the treaty”.

Walsh gave the opinion that those opposed to the Treaty need not necessarily take the oath if they did not want to. He had met several people who said that the Dáil had spent too much time discussing oaths and observed that “the Irish people were thoroughly fed up with this jujitsu exposition of oath ranting of that nature”.

Walsh felt that the public bodies of Ireland wished and desired the common good of the nation.  He gave the example of Cork Corporation at the municipal elections of 1920. The public only voted 50% for the Republican candidates – 29 out of 56 candidates. In his estimation, in January 1922 if there was a vote the people of Cork would vote for many more Republican candidates.

Proceeding, JJ Walsh, said that war knew no principle, as those who lived through the previous six years knew. He denoted that the Irish people would not consent to the “resumption of war by anyone standing on the bedrock of our Republic”.

He heard it remarked that the country would be drawn closer to England if the treaty was ratified. He remarked the opposite would happen; “If you got any vision, I see that Ireland will be drawn away from England by virtue of the fact that it would be drawn closer to the universe. Instead of being sheltered off by England, Ireland, by the opening up of its trade routes and inter communication, would come closer in touch with the world”.

The Lord Mayor of Cork, Donal Óg O’Callaghan, also took the floor. He began speaking in Irish and then moved into English. He said that he was not going to appeal to any member of the Dáil to seek to influence the votes of any member of the Dáil. He was concerned only with his own views and vote. He resented what he described as “this series of lectures and appeals to which the hosts have been treated to by both sides”. He deplored the keen differences of opinion and disruption in the assembly and was distraught even more to the spirit in which it had been pursued. He took the view that every member of the Dáil was actuated by desire to do the best in the interest of Ireland, and in the pursuit of the idea of absolute Irish independence.

The Lord Mayor declared though he would be voting against the treaty. “I could not in conscience do anything else in regard to the result of that with regard to the people I represent”. He noted he had the honour for some time to represent the people of Cork in more than one capacity. He represented them as Lord Mayor, chairman of the County Council, and as one of the representatives in the Dáil. He felt that the people did not elect him to any of these positions because of any ability, real or supposed, or because of any statesmanship of his, or because of any political ability. He continued, “they elected me simply and solely because I believe in absolute freedom for Ireland, and because my views on the question are well known. If the people of Cork have since then changed their minds I did not”.

The Lord Mayor – in complete juxtaposition to J J Walsh – maintained the people of Ireland had not changed their minds, but if they have decided – a halt could be made on the treaty path they were now on and a move made onto another path towards, as he observed “the full measure of Irish freedom, entailing as it might still further war and suffering”. He wanted that his constituents – the people of Cork a right to decide. Therefore, he suggested, and he regretted it had not been suggested earlier – that the people of the country have the deciding voice on the treaty. He had no desire to record a vote if the people who had sent them there desired it cast up otherwise, but as he stated; “if a vote were taken I certainly, as an individual, could not cast my vote in any but one way. Then the electors may repudiate my action and recall a replacement. I would be perfectly content to avoid their decision”. He wished to be fair to the members in favour of the treaty – his views were the same as they were when he was elected to the Dáil.

Concluding the Lord Mayor said he regretted the strained feeling, which was visible in the Dáil, and hoped that – “if a vote were to be, and his suggestion for a plebiscite not taken – that the strange bitterness and strange feeling that had so suddenly risen in the Dáil would disappear and that they would all be in friendship once again”.

Happy New Year to all readers of this column.

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


1132a. J J Walsh, 1918 (source: Cork City and County Archives).

1132b. Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Donal Óg O’Callaghan, 1920 (source: Cork City Council).

1132b. Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Donal Óg O’Callaghan, 1920 (source: Cork City Council).

Kieran’s Press: “Good design, good architecture can make or break a sense of place in a neighbourhood”, 29 December 2021

29 December 2021, “Good design, good architecture can make or break a sense of place in a neighbourhood. Queen’s Old Castle Shopping Centre was the site of one of the towers – called King’s Castle- which controlled the medieval Watergate and medieval dock- this tower is shown in the city’s coat of arms. In essence, this is where the trade of our port city began over 700 years ago. Adaptation of the site may also be required if the foundations of the tower are discovered or even other prominent archaeological features” Cllr McCarthy said, Mixed reaction to proposals for Queen’s Old Castle redevelopment, Mixed reaction to proposals for Queen’s Old Castle redevelopment (

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 23 December 2021

1131a. A crowd scene outside the National University buildings on Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin, awaiting ratification of the Treaty, Late December 1921 (source: National Library of Ireland, Dublin).
1131a. A crowd scene outside the National University buildings on Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin, awaiting ratification of the Treaty, Late December 1921 (source: National Library of Ireland, Dublin).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 23 December 2021

Journeys to a Truce: The Treaty Debate Begins

On 9 December 1921, the publicity department of Dáil Éireann issued a statement by President Éamon de Valera. He noted that to prevent misunderstanding the public should realise that the treaty signed by the plenipotentiaries must be ratified by Dáil Éireann and the British parliament in order to take effect.

The usual process would be for the Cabinet of Dáil Éireann to introduce the treaty agreement and sanction it. Owing to the fact that in the latter stages of the negotiations the views of the delegation of plenipotentiaries differed from those of certain members of the cabinet, this course was not to be taken. The motion for ratification, De Valera, noted, would be introduced to the wider Dáil chamber by Arthur Griffith as chairman of the Irish delegation to London.

On Wednesday 14 December 1921 at University Buildings, Earlsfort Terrace at 11am, Dáil Éireann, opened its session to the public. The minutes of the meeting and those that followed are now digitised at There was almost a full attendance by members. After discussing details leading to the appointment of the plenipotentiaries and the powers conferred on them De Valera asked that the session be private for the remainder of the day. He openly complained that the final text of the agreement reached in England was not submitted to Dublin before it was signed.

Michael Collins arose and said he was not in favour of a private session. He protested against what he called an unfair action on the part of the president in reading one document when he did not read another, which was equally vital viz- the credentials signed with the president himself to the plenipotentiaries when going to England. He then read in public a document, which declared that they were empowered, on behalf of the Irish Republic, to negotiate and conclude a treaty or treaties with representatives of Britain.

The private session was of a very protected nature and lasted until late into the evening. The doors and rooms of the meeting rooms were strongly protected by IRA volunteers. No one was allowed within the presence of the college buildings except accredited pressman. The private session continued the following two days on 15 and 16 December.

In the meantime, the special Irish session of the British parliament opened also on 14 December. The King’s speech expressed the hope that by the articles of agreement to be submitted to the house the “strife for centuries maybe ended that Ireland, as a free partner in the Commonwealth of Nations forming the British Empire”, and that Ireland would secure the fulfilment of its “national ideals”. In the extensive debate that followed Prime Minister Lloyd George spoke early in support of the treaty.

Dáil Éireann re-opened to public session the following Monday morning on 19 December. Arthur Griffith moved the ratification of the treaty, which was seconded by Commandant Seán McKeown. Griffith noted in an extensive speech that the task that was given to the plenipotentiaries was very difficult noting – “We faced that task. We knew whatever happened we would have our critics and we’ve made our minds up to do whatever was right and disregard whatever criticism might occur. We could have shirked the responsibility. We did not seek to go as the plenipotentiaries. Other men were asked; other men refused. We went. The responsibility is on our shoulders. We took the responsibility in London and we take the responsibility in Dublin. I signed the treaty not as an ideal thing but fully believing what I believe now was the treaty honourable to Ireland and safeguarding the interests of Ireland”.

In response De Valera gave his own extensive reaction noting he was against the treaty and that it would not end the centuries of conflict between the two nations of Great Britain and Ireland; “We went out to affect such a reconciliation and we’ve got back a thing, which will not reconcile Great Britain and Ireland and will not reconcile our own people. If there is to be reconciliation it is obvious that the parties in Ireland that typified national aspirations for centuries should be satisfied and the test of every agreement was whether the people were satisfied or not. Because of the conditions of war there are many people who might approve but if they had a small election now and got a vote of the people, the treaty would not reconcile the nations. It would mean a renewal of the contest after the act of union…They were threatened with immediate war and they were faced with a pistol at their head”.

De Valera expressed the view that the document that was signed in effect was under duress. He wanted the treaty and the constitution that when an Irishman met an Englishman he could, as a freeman, shake him by the hand. This document, in his opinion, made “British authority the master in Ireland”. Concluding De Valera noted, “do you think that because you signed documents like this you can change the current and tradition? You cannot; some of you are relying on that ‘cannot’ when signing this treaty but don’t put a barrier in the way of future generations…You are presuming to set bounds to the onward march of a nation “.

After several hours of debates, where members put forward their opinions on the signed Treaty, and after listening carefully, Michael Collins took the floor.  Responding to the threat of Britain in the negotiations, Collins noted he has not been afraid to call the bluff of the British negotiators. He noted: “It has been suggested that the delegation had gone down before the first base of British bluff, but if they did there was a big bit of British bluff, which went on for the last two years and I did not breakdown before that bluff”.

Collins continued; “The treaty was not signed under personal intimidation if it had been offered under that threat the delegation would not have signed it…We know we have not vanquished the enemy, and have not driven them out of the country. The members do not understand the immense powers and liberties which the treaty gives them. If the treaty gives them security and freedom then it has satisfied their aspirations…it gives us freedom not the ultimate freedom, which all nations aspire to, but the freedom to achieve it”.

Collins maintained the disappearance of military strength from the country was proof of the achievement of national liberty. He highlighted: “Ireland was of course the weaker nation, and of course would be so for a long time, but as to certain guarantees we are guaranteed by countries of the constitutional status of Canada, Australia and South Africa”.

To be continued in the new year…

Happy Christmas to all readers of this column.

Missed one of the 50 other columns this year, check out the indices at Kieran’s heritage website,


1131a. A crowd scene outside the National University buildings on Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin, awaiting ratification of the Treaty, Late December 1921 (source: National Library of Ireland, Dublin).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 16 December 2021

1130a. Released prisoners from Maryborough Internment Camp, Portlaoise, celebrating while standing on an engine (source: Illustrated London News, 17 December 1921).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 16 December 2021

Journeys to a Truce: The Release of the Internees

Within forty-eight hours after the details of the Articles of Agreement were signed on 6 December 1921, the British government approved the release of all people who had been imprisoned under the Restoration of Order (Ireland) Act, known to many as the Coercion Act. The order did not extend to prisoners who had been either convicted or who were under trial. Between 3,000 and 4,000 prisoners were released from Ballykinlar Camp in County Down, the Rath Camp in the Curragh, Portlaoise Jail as well as from Waterford, Cork, Kilmainham, Mountjoy and other prisons respectively. Special train services have been arranged to transport the liberated men and women home.

At Ballykinlar, County Down, on Thursday 8 December the southern internees were up at 6am and marched from the camp to the nearest station, TullyBridge, where they connected with the Great Northern Railway. Three special trains brought the men to Dublin, from where the internees made their own way to their home counties. Their luggage was taken in military lorries. The previous night the men were allowed to wander about the camp freely.

The Cork Examiner describes that on one train Sinn Féin flags were displayed, and at Newcastle a large crowd welcomed the ex-prisoners and supplied them with tea, cigarettes and fruit. The train proceeded with its journey. At Katesbridge near Banbridge, County Down, stones and nut bearings were flung at the train by Loyalists and shots were also discharged. Two of the prisoners were slightly wounded. The last carriage had hardly passed out of Katesbridge station when a shower of stones from an unseen quarter rattled upon it. Several cars were struck, and windows broken.

In the next few hundred yards shots were fired from the left on side of the track, apparently from behind the hedge, and then shortly, two from the right came. One bullet passed through the window of a parked compartment, smashing the glass and sending splinters of the window pane over the prisoners. One was severely lacerated by the glass and the second had a very narrow escape. He was sitting by the window and a bullet passed right in front of his face and right out of the open window of the carriage door. In another compartment a John Fitzgerald of Kilbritain County Cork was struck in the head by flying glass. First aid was rendered by his companions. At Banbridge the train was again attacked after passing the station stones rattled off the carriage sides broke some windows.

The train eventually arrived at Dublin’s Amiens Street station (now Connolly Station) and crowds of people awaited the newly released interns. A mass of general public lined the platform on the station precincts and all along Talbot Street to the O’Connell Monument.

A Cork Examiner reporter spoke to a few of the released southern internees. They noted that they had no chance of reading yet the nature of the difference of opinion between the leaders as regards the Treaty terms and would not express any opinion on the matter.

The train bound for Cork City commenced its journey at 10am on Friday morning. It contained about 400 men, but of those, only about 100 came to Cork – the others having left the various stations on the way home. All along the route, the people crowded the station platforms patiently awaiting the train and the ex-internees were given a rousing welcome.

Long before the train is due in Cork City, the platform, the station precincts, and approaches were packed. Hundreds stood on the nearby bridge over the railway and many others occupied positions on the steps leading up to St Luke’s, and money were waiting along the Lower Road and MacCurtain Street.

The excited crowds on the platform gave even the passing of single engines and the lines of people increased with tears, surged to and fro, laughing and shouting, and the best of good humour. Many climbed on seats and railings to get a better view.

When the bell denoted the train approached the excitement became intense. The advent of the train a few minutes later at 2.30pm was greeted with thunderous cheers with fog signals released adding to the uproarious demonstration.

Three tricolours were fixed to the front of the engine and from every window flags were waved for the homecoming man. On each of the carriages such inscriptions and chalk, as “Up Spike”, “Sinn Féin abú”, were written, amongst other messages.

The eagerness to which the crowds rushed to the carriage doors made it impossible for the prisoners to step onto the platform, until a path had been cleared for them. Then the eagerness was replaced by conversations, laughter, congratulations, and personal welcomes. The crowd slowly left the platform. The released men left the station grounds on vehicles of all descriptions, and drove off with the relatives to the different parts of the city. Hundreds lined both sides of the road for some distance from the station entrance with the public cheering, waving hats and handkerchiefs with the ex-internees joyfully responding.

Four special carriages were dispatched out from Cork on Friday morning, 9 December on the West Cork Rail line to support the released internees from Bere Island. On Bere Island two hundred prisoners were loaded onto to War Office steamers to Bantry where the special train conveyed them to Cork. The whole Bere Island and the adjacent mainland was ablaze with bonfires on the release.


1130a. Released prisoners from Maryborough Internment Camp, Portlaoise, celebrating while standing on an engine (source: Illustrated London News, 17 December 1921).

Kieran’s Question to CE and Motions, Cork City Council Meeting, 13 December 2021

Question to the CE: 

To ask the CE for an update on the opening of Marina Park and the final cost of its completion and the sources of funding? (Cllr Kieran McCarthy).


That City Library’s Cork Past and Present website be put back together online as soon as possible. It plays a very supportive role in the study of local history and genealogy in the city and region (Cllr Kieran McCarthy).