Marking MacCurtain’s murder 101 years on

Marking MacCurtain’s murder 101 years on

Funeral of Tomás MacCurtain, 1920.

On the 101st anniversary of the assassination of Tomás MacCurtain, the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Joe Kavanagh has appealed to the public to emulate MacCurtain's courage in these difficult times. 

"Lord Mayor MacCurtain laid down his life for his family, his city and his country. 

"It is appropriate that we reflect on the period and acknowledge our pride in Lord Mayor MacCurtain's sacrifice. 

People gather outside the home of Tomás MacCurtain the day after his murder. 
People gather outside the home of Tomás MacCurtain the day after his murder. 

"The heroic efforts and resilience demonstrated by the Lord Mayor of Cork and the people of Cork, 101 years ago, in the shaping of our city and country are required again today as we battle with the pandemic. 

"In the coming weeks and months let us emulate the solidarity the people of Cork displayed, let us come together to find the courage and strength to persevere now, as in 1920," he said. 

Lord Mayor of Cork Tomás MacCurtain and family pictured in early 1920.
Lord Mayor of Cork Tomás MacCurtain and family pictured in early 1920.

The brutal murder of Tomás MacCurtain, who was shot in front of his wife and children by masked RIC men on his 36th birthday, sent a ripple of shock and immense grief as the country grappled with the loss of such an admired figure. 

Historian and Independent councillor Kieran McCarthy described the former Lord Mayor as a true "colossus in Cork history".

"His story is peppered with several aspects – amongst those that shine out are his love of his family, city, country, language, comradeship and hope – all mixed with pure tragedy. 

Lord Mayor of Cork Tomás MacCurtain who was murdered by the Royal Irish Constabulary on March 20, 1920, lying in state at City Hall Cork.
Lord Mayor of Cork Tomás MacCurtain who was murdered by the Royal Irish Constabulary on March 20, 1920, lying in state at City Hall Cork.

"In many ways, the murder of Tomás MacCurtain on the night of 19-20 March 1920 changed the future public and collective memory narrative of Cork history forever. 

"In particular, the memory of Tomás and his life and times and works are a central part of the history of politics in the city and the city and region’s role within the Irish War of Independence," he said.

Irish Volunteers stand in tribute at Tomás MacCurtain’s funeral.
Irish Volunteers stand in tribute at Tomás MacCurtain’s funeral.

Mr McCarthy is the co-author of Witness to Murder which centres on the inquest into MacCurtain's murder.

"Last year, I spent some time with John O’Mahony in the Irish Examiner pulling together a book called Witness to Murder, which comprised a transcript of the Tomás MacCurtain inquest following the events after MacCurtain’s murder."

One of the official pictures taken on the night MacCurtain was elected Lord Mayor. 
One of the official pictures taken on the night MacCurtain was elected Lord Mayor. 

The objective of the book, Mr McCarthy said, was about "giving a voice to the solicitors, jury and those interviewed."

Following MacCurtain's death, the city came to a standstill mourning the loss of Cork's first Republican Lord Mayor.

City councillor Mick Nugent said Cork Sinn Féin members "treasure the example set and sacrifice of Tomás MacCurtain and also recognise his wider family including the current generation who strive to keep his memory alive".

Funeral procession at Daunt's Square.
Funeral procession at Daunt's Square.

"Unfortunately again this year there will be no large gatherings in remembrance but wreaths will be laid at his grave at the Republican plot at St Finbarr's Cemetery and the former family homestead.

"I firmly believe that the ultimate tribute to Tomás will be the achievement of the objective for which he gave his life, a United Ireland, something I think is getting closer by the day," he said. 

More in this section

Sponsored Content