Sale of Terence MacSwiney’s wedding present

Des O’Sullivan reports on an inscribed silver dish ring by Egan’s of Cork.

An inscribed silver dish ring given as a wedding present to Terence MacSwiney comes up at Fonsie Mealy’s Centenary Sale in Castlecomer on April 23.

The pierced dish ring was a gift from the girls of St Ita’s, the independent school in Cork founded by his sisters Máire and Áine MacSwiney after Máire was dismissed from her teaching post following her arrest during the Easter Rising.

Terence MacSwiney was a founder member of the Irish Volunteers in Cork. Though the planned Rising in Cork did not take place, he and other Volunteers were arrested and detained in England and Wales.

In June 1917 he married Muriel (Muirgheal) Murphy of the Cork distilling family. They had one daughter. In 1920 after the murder of Tomás Mac Curtain, Terence MacSwiney became Lord Mayor of Cork.

On August 12 he was arrested at Cork City Hall and sentenced to two years imprisonment for possession of a military cipher. He died on hunger strike in Brixton Prison 74 days later. His enormous funeral was a turning point in public support for the Republican struggle.

The dish ring by Egans of Cork, with Dublin hallmarks for 1916, is inscribed: “M .. / Agus / T. Mac S. / La a bposta / 9 / 6 / 17.” The lower rim is inscribed “O Chailinibh Sgoil Ite Naomhta” (from the girls of St Ita’s).

It comes up at the Centenary sale in Castlecomer on April 23 with an estimate of €2,000 to €3,000. In 1916 Easter Sunday fell on April 23.


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