Terence MacSwiney & Cathal Brugha – presented by Cathal MacSwiney Brugha

Terence MacSwiney & Cathal Brugha – presented by  Cathal MacSwiney Brugha

At the March meeting of the Mount Merrion Historical Society Cathal MacSwiney Brugha will talk about his grandfathers, both leaders in the War of Independence.

8.00pm Thursday 7th March 2024


Terence MacSwiney moved from accountant to teacher, to poet and dramatist, to philosopher. His book ‘Principles of Freedom’, led him to becoming a soldier, a TD, and finally Lord Mayor of Cork. When he was arrested for the last time he challenged the authority of British Empire over him, as First Citizen of Cork, by using hunger-strike as a weapon. The British Empire did not back down. His death on the 75 th day of his hunger-strike had a dramatic effect on world public opinion.

Cathal Brugha was born Charles St. John Burgess. He set up a church candle company with two Lalor brothers and travelled Ireland using the business as a cover and organising Irish language classes, Sinn Féin politically, and the Irish Volunteers. His heroic fight in Easter Week was celebrated in song: “The Foggy Dew”. In 1917 he organised the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army into one national army.

He was the Minister for Defence, directing the War of Independence for the Irish Republic from 1919 to 1922.

He advised against negotiating a Treaty that involved returning into the British Empire, because it would lead to division, and could lead to civil war. When that happened he tried to negotiate to prevent it. When that failed he thought, wrongly, that his death, which he allowed happen, might wake people up to horror of civil war.

Both Cathal Brugha and Terence MacSwiney were good friends, worked well together in the Dáil, and had both switched to using Irish instead of English as their main language of communication.


The eldest son of Ruairí Brugha, only son of Cathal Brugha; and Máire MacSwiney Brugha, only child of Terence MacSwiney, Cathal MacSwiney Brugha grew up in Mount Merrion Parish where his parents settled in the late 1940s. He is a member of the Treaty Generation Descendants Group, descendants of people, from opposing sides on the Treaty of 1922, who came together to help heal the divisions caused by the Civil War.


Admission: Members – No charge (see Season Membership) Non-Members – €5.00 (Students €2.00)

While the Society will endeavour to deliver the published agenda, lectures and speakers may be changed due to circumstances outside its control.