The centenary of Terence MacSwiney’s marriage to Muriel Murphy in a small English village on June 9, 1917 is being marked with the first public display of a magnificent wedding gift to the couple; the silver dish ring, made by famous Cork silversmiths William Egan & Sons, is going on permanent display at Independence Museum Kilmurry, where it is just one of many items in a special collection that remembers the life and death of Terence MacSwiney.
The wedding gift was from the girls of St Íta’s School, founded nine months earlier in Cork by the groom’s sisters, Mary and Annie MacSwiney. Terence’s sisters were among the very small wedding party at the ceremony, which took place in St Joseph’s Church in Bromyard, Herefordshire on the day after the 25th birthday of Muriel, a member of the wealthy Cork distilling family who did not fully approve of the marriage.
MacSwiney had been forced to live in, and remain within a few miles’ radius of Bromyard village since late February 1917. He had been deported from Ireland by the British authorities for his continuing Irish Volunteers activities, along with others, including Cork’s future first Republican Lord Mayor, Tomás MacCurtain.
The best man was Richard Mulcahy, who would become Irish Volunteers Chief of Staff in 1918, and later commander-in-chief of the National Army after Michael Collins was killed in August 1922 at Béal na Bláth, just a few miles from Independence Museum Kilmurry. The wedding was conducted in Irish by the Capuchin friar, Fr Augustine Hayden, who had ministered to the wounded and dying during the Easter Rising in Dublin the previous year, and was with Con Colbert in the hours before his execution in May 1916.
Terence MacSwiney was the first member of Dáil Éireann to represent the Mid-Cork constituency, where the museum is located in the village of Kilmurry, just off the Cork-Macroom road at Lissarda (Terence’s father John and his ancestors were natives of the Kilmurry parish). MacSwiney died on hunger strike in London’s Brixton Prison on October 25, 1920. He had been arrested in August 1920 at Cork City Hall, having become Lord Mayor after the murder of his friend Tomás MacCurtain by police in March 1920.
The silver dish ring was purchased at auction in 2016 and has been very generously donated to Independence Museum Kilmurry. Deirdre Bourke, chairperson of Kilmurry Historical Archaeological Association (KHAA), which operates the museum, said: “This is a wonderful addition to the collection in our museum, which places a strong emphasis on increasing awareness and appreciation of Terence MacSwiney’s life – not just as a political and military figure, but as a writer and a family man. It also further strengthens the ties between the museum, our parish and the MacSwiney family, whose support we have been very grateful for over many decades.”
Terence and Muriel’s only child Máire MacSwiney Brugha (born in 1918, and later to marry the son of Terence’s friend Cathal Brugha) was KHAA’s patron until her death in 2012. She opened the original museum in 1965 in small premises in Kilmurry where the collection was housed until it moved to a new purpose-designed building that was officially opened in August 2016 by President Michael D Higgins.
Independence Museum Kilmurry is open Thursday to Sunday, and on Bank Holidays, 2pm – 5pm.
For more information visit: www.kilmurrymuseum.ie.
Above Image: The wedding party at the marriage of Terence MacSwiney and Muriel Murphy in Bromyard, England, June 9, 1917.
Left: The wedding gift of a
silver dish ring is now on
display in Kilmurray Independence Museum.