- John Fitzgerald is a poet based in Co Cork, and is also director of information services, and university librarian, at UCC
IN AUGUST 1920, Terence MacSwiney, Lord Mayor of Cork and MP for Mid-Cork, was arrested for having in his possession a number of ‘seditious articles and documents’ including a cipher key for use in decoding secret RIC messages.
Four days later, on 16 August, he was sentenced to two years imprisonment in Brixton Prison. He immediately went on hunger strike in protest, dying in a coma after 74 days of food deprivation on October 25, 1920.
Terence’s father was born near Kilmurry, County Cork, and his direct descendants still live there. When I was asked by the Kilmurry Historical and Archaeological Association to write a poem to commemorate Terence McSwiney, I went to the Clearagh Stone which is located in a field near Poulanargid in Kilmurry parish to think about his loss and his life as a political activist, family man, and poet.
The Clearagh Stone is an outcrop of rock decorated with Neolithic-era inscriptions, or ‘rock-art’. The extensive and detailed patterns and marks on the stone are indecipherable to us.
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