• Gerard Horgan/GH

Terence MacSwiney, March 28, 1879 - October 25, 1920

Updated: Dec 19, 2020

As a lover of history, think it important to acknowledge the centenary of the passing of Corkman and City Mayor, Terence MacSwiney and his fellow hunger strikers in 1920, including Joseph Patrick Murphy. MacSwiney's most famous phrase: "It is not those who inflict the most suffering, but those who endure the most who will triumph", struck a chord with those seeking freedom from colonialism around the world.

Photo of Terence MacSwiney courtesy of Matt Loughrey, founder of 'My Colourful Past'

Terence MacSwiney’s grandson, Cathal MacSwiney Brugha, wrote recently that his grandfather was an "optimist, a pragmatist, an idealist, and an opportunist" who sought to "stop the British Empire from destroying the lives of the people in Ireland."

While there have long been arguments about MacSwiney decision to go on hunger strike (lasting 74 days), his plight caught international attention from the US to China, Japan and India. Below are some of the front pages from that time, which hint at the coverage and importance of a sacrifice that helped further the cause of independence in the 26 counties. The freedoms enjoyed today are as a result of the sacrifice of men and women over many centuries, and while there isn't yet a united Ireland, there is an Ireland at peace after centuries of conflict and isn't that something also worth remembering.


The Petit Journal is particularly interesting: it was a large format publication (30 cm x 45 cm), known for its striking cover illustrations, photos, and political cartoons. It was one of the most popular French newspapers of the time, with some issues selling over one million copies. You will see that in the second publication below, L'Humanité, news of MacSwiney's death overshadowed that of the King of Greece ~ Professor Emeritus, Dr Grace Neville, UCC

"The Irish Martyr"

The United States



Front page on 26 October 1920 of Correio da Manhã, a leading Brazilian newspaper of the day.


  • Terence MacSwiney death: 'My grandfather was optimist, a pragmatist, an idealist, and an opportunist', click here

  • Death of a lord mayor: Terence MacSwiney's 1920 hunger strike, click here

  • For a short Youtube video, click here


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