A marble bust of Terence MacSwiney, made from a death mask made of the of former Lord Mayor shortly after he died on hunger strike, has been presented to the Cork Public Museum.
It was sculpted by renowned Irish sculptor Albert Power, was generously donated to the City by the family of Cork’s first female Lord Mayor, Jane Dowdall.
Deborah Dowdall, her granddaughter was at City Hall for the formal handover today.
Power sculpted the bust from a death mask he had made of MacSwiney’s face, after his death on 25th October 1920, following 74 days of hunger strike in Brixton Prison.
The bust is a very unique and important piece, as for many, this portrait captures the serenity and acceptance MacSwiney had about his death. It seems as if MacSwiney is gently smiling in the knowledge that his death would play a pivotal role in securing independence for Ireland.
The second piece donated today is a Republican silver Loving Cup, made by William Egan of Cork. There are only about 60 to 80 pieces of Cork Republican Silver known to exist so this is a particularly important acquisition for the museum.
During the War of Independence and Civil War, it was not safe to send silver produced in Cork to Dublin to be assayed to determine its silver content and quality. Instead, Cork silver makers stamped their own silver with a hallmark of a ship between two towers, commonly found on the Cork Coat of Arms. This object was purchased using funding from Creative Ireland.
Both historical items will go on permanent display in the museum in Fitzgerald's Park.
Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Mick Finn said: “These two artefacts are hugely significant links to the history of Cork and the birth of a nation which will come more and more into focus as the decade of centenaries start to centre on the War of Independence and Civil War period."
"The role of iar ardmhéara Terence MacSwiney in those events was known internationally following his death on hunger strike in London. That the city now owns a sculpture of Terence MacSwiney’s death mask – which is both extremely startling and poignant to view – is so significant at a time when we need to invest in our history."
"The new Revolution series on RTÉ, in conjunction with UCC, is a timely such investment which will hopefully ignite the flame of interest in such a formative period.”