Nine Corkmen who served on first Dáil remembered by County Council

Nine Corkmen who served on first Dáil remembered by County Council
Cork County Hall

Cork County Council has marked the centenary of the first Dáil sitting by remembering nine Corkmen who were elected to serve on it.

A special meeting to mark the 100th anniversary was held in County Hall today to remember the nine, who were among the 73 representatives from Sinn Féin elected to that 105-seater Dáil.

They were Liam De Róiste; James J Walsh, David Kent, Terence MacSwiney, Patrick O’Keeffe, Thomas Hunter, Michael Collins, Diarmuid Lynch and Seán Hayes.

Rather than take their seats at the British Parliament in London, the elected men and sole woman, Countess Markievicz, established their own Government, Dáil Éireann, meaning ‘the Assembly of Ireland’.

The first Dáil Éireann
The first Dáil Éireann

This decision would set in train the Anglo-Irish War of Independence and subsequent Irish Civil War, with County Cork playing a pivotal role in both.

History was made today as it was the first fully bilingual meeting of the County Council.

A translator was on hand to provide an English version of the keynote address given entirely in Irish by Dr Neil Buttimer from UCC's Department Of Modern Irish, who has an in-depth knowledge of the era.

Dr Buttimer said those who assembled in the Mansion House 100 years ago for the first Dáil meeting were very tough people, but only two Cork TDs - James Joseph Walsh and Sean Hayes - were actually present.

Others were in prison, banished or “simply marked down as absent,” he noted.

Despite this, Michael Collins was appointed initially as Home Affairs Minister, while Liam De Róiste was nominated to a committee that would decide on Dáil salaries, and ultimately became Leas Ceann Comhairle.

By August 20, 1919, Terence McSweeney was on a number of Dáil subcommittees and David Kent would be promoting the idea of investing in agriculture.

“It's clear the first Dáil was working on a number of practical matters,” Dr Buttimer said.

Cllr Frank O'Flynn, who is chairman of a special council committee set up to commemorate a number of upcoming landmark centenaries in Irish history, said all of its members “fully appreciating the importance of commemorating all of those who have gone before us in making Ireland the place that it is today".

100 years ago Cork County Council’s chairman was none other than William Kent from Castlelyons, who lost two of his brothers in the 1916 uprising, Richard and Thomas Kent.

“A further brother, David, sat in the first Dáil, representing the people of North Cork along with Thomas Hunter of Castletownroche, and Patrick O'Keeffe from Cullen,” Cllr O'Flynn said.

Mayor of County Cork, Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy, said it was a momentous day “commemorating a very important event in the history of Ireland.”

Council chief executive Tim Lucey said Cork is very proud of the TDs from the county who participated in the first Dáil and said a commemorative booklet has been put together by the council to be presented to all attending the meeting.

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