When choosing a document to highlight for UCD Archives’ Document of the Month, it can be difficult to select one record to characterise an entire collection. The Terence MacSwiney papers and the papers of his biographers (UCDA P48b and UCDA P48c) are rich with correspondence, documents, photographs and ephemera that provide a unique insight into the life of one of Ireland’s most famous martyrs and the wider context of Ireland’s struggle for independence.
The selection of this letter from a long list of possible candidates can be attributed to the historical significance of its few short paragraphs. Due to its limited legibility, a transcription of the letter accompanies the digital images, along with a biographical note which provides a brief contextual background. This is to enable users to fully engage with its content.
The document represents one of the final letters written by Terence MacSwiney before his death on 25 October 1920 following 74 days of hunger strike.
Sent from Brixton prison to Cathal Brugha, a friend and fellow Irish revolutionary, the letter alludes to MacSwiney’s guilt over his own role in the failure of the 1916 Rising in Cork but also illuminates his continued optimism regarding the struggle for Irish independence.
The letter holds a particular poignancy as although MacSwiney wishes his friend “long years and happiness under the victorious Republic”, Brugha would meet his own end less than two years later while fighting on the side of anti-treaty forces during the Irish Civil War.
Web page link: http://www.ucd.ie/archives/collections/month/
Link to Terence MacSwiney listing on UCDA website: