Speaking in January 2020, in Cork City Hall, Tánaiste Simon Coveney announced that ‘a major commemorative programme will take place throughout the year, hosted by Cork City Council, in collaboration with Cork County Council and with significant State recognition, support and participation’. The announcement was followed by the recent publication of Cork 1920 Exhibitions and Programme of Events. Cork’s Lord Mayor Cllr John Sheahan said in the foreword:
1920 was a year of crucial importance in Irish history, a year when the city and county of Cork was the ‘cockpit of the revolution’ to quote the Atlas of the Irish Revolution. … We commemorate these events as a city, not merely to remember them, and certainly not to rake over old wounds, but rather to learn from the men and women of that era, whose vision and sacrifice gave our generation, and generations to follow, the freedom we now take for granted.
Overview of Civic Events
Centenary of assassination of Lord Mayor MacCurtain
Friday 20 March, 12:30-14:30
A music performance in the Millennium Hall at City Hall will take place in recognition of Tomás MacCurtain’s passion and involvement in music. In addition, there will be a number of talks and reflections on his life and the impact he made. Other events are being organised by the Blackpool Historical Society, the North Mon, Terence MacSwiney Community College and St. Peter’s Cork.
Centenary of election of Cllr Terence MacSwiney as Lord Mayor
Monday 30 March 18:30 to 20:00
This event will take place in the Chamber at City Hall where the Lord Mayor will read from the Minute of the Corporation meeting which elected MacSwiney as Lord Mayor. MacSwiney’s address on being elected will also be read. Reading of relevant passages MacSwiney’s book Principles of Freedom.
Centenary of the death and burial of Lord Mayor Terence MacSwiney
The Lord Mayor and the City Council will formally mark the death on hunger strike of the city’s first citizen. Full details will be available later in the year.
State Ceremonial Event
Sunday 1 November
This will include a major commemoration with State ceremonial elements that will take place from MacSwiney Quay, in front of the City Hall, along South Mall, Grand Parade and St Patrick Street.
Centenary of election of Cllr Dónal Óg O’Callaghan as Lord Mayor
4 November, 18:30 to 20:00
Lord Mayor will read from the Minute of the Corporation meeting which elected O’Callaghan as Lord Mayor.The main event in the Chamber at City Hall will be the official launch of the biography of Dónal Óg O’Callaghan by Dr Aodh Quinlivan, commissioned by the City Council, with a talk on his life and importance.
Centenary of the Burning of Cork
11 / 12 December
Centenary of the burning of the city; close of year of commemoration.Full details will be available later in the year.
Exhibitions and Events
Exhibition: Cork 1920 – The Burning of a City
January – December 2020
Uncovering thought-provoking stories, archival material, historic photographs and compelling witness statements, St. Peter’s Cork shines a spotlight on the city’s past with a brand new exhibition: Cork 1920 – The Burning of a City. Complementing this stunning exhibition, throughout 2020 St. Peter’s Cork will also host a dedicated 1920-themed series of gatherings, talks and workshops.
Exhibition: Rebel Women
Opening date: Friday 31st January
As part of its Cork 1920 exhibition, St. Peter’s Cork presents a fully immersive visual & audio experience featuring stunning archival materials, witness statements and stories about some of the women who helped shape Cork city and the nation. www.stpeterscork.ie
Exhibition: Suffering The Most – The Life And Times Of Tomás MacCurtain & Terence MacSwiney
Opening date: Thursday 19th March 2020
This exhibition tells the story of Tomás MacCurtain and Terence MacSwiney, Cork’s first two Republican Lord Mayors and will focus on aspects of their lives including family, culture, music and religion, their achievements, and their deaths, set against the backdrop of a country at war and a city in turmoil. The exhibition will also look at events such as the Cork Hunger Strike, the military and political campaigns in the city, the introduction of Martial Law and the series of arson attacks that culminated in the Burning of Cork in December 1920. www.corkpublicmuseum.ie
Exhibition: Cork – A County At War
Saturday 15th August 2020, (Running until August 2021)
County Cork played a major part in the War of Independence, witnessing a number of military engagements that would have a significant impact on both the nature and outcome of the conflict. Using original artefacts, images and documentation, this exhibition will illustrate the roles played by the Republican and Crown forces, while exploring their strategies, tactics, equipment and experiences of war.
Exhibition: No Longer Forgotten: Cork Women of the Revolution
Opening date: Thursday 5th March 2020
This stunning exhibition will highlight the bravery and idealism of the women of Cork including: Muriel Murphy MacSwiney, Alice Cashel, Leslie Price, Hannah (Pidge) Duggan, Cecilia Sunders Gallagher, Josephine Marchment (O’Donoghue), Mary MacSwiney and Annie MacSwiney www.corkcitylibraries.ie.
Event: History Roadshow 2020
Saturday 28th March from 10 am until 4 pm
This Year’s Speakers Are: Myles Dungan (‘The War in the Shadows’); Liz Gillis (‘1920 – Year of Terror’); Kate O’Malley (‘Irish Revolutionary Women & The Wider World’) and Jonathan Creasy (‘Poetry, Prose & Song of the 1920s’). Admission is free. Places are very limited and must be prebooked by emailing Helen_McGonagle@corkcity.ie or telephoning 021-4924929
Cork: A City Burned ~ A City Reborn
From November 2020
This exhibition will explain how the heightening tensions and deepening conflict set the stage for the catastrophe which befell the city on the night of 11 / 12 December 1920.Featuring strong visual content – photos, maps, and ads for the shops which were destroyed – the exhibition will give a comprehensive account of what was lost on that awful night. It will also feature the immediate impact of the destruction, including rarely seen photographs of the aftermath.The final section of the exhibition will tell the inspiring story of the rebirth of St Patrick Street, including the construction of the fine buildings which replaced those which had been destroyed, and the rebuilding of City Hall. It will compare the buildings lost in the fire with those which replaced them. The little-known role of Michael Collins in determining how the new city centre was planned and constructed will receive due attention. www.corkcity.ie
Cork: A Library Burned ~ A Library Reborn
From November 2020
Venue: Cork City Library
The sister exhibition will tell the story of the destruction of the Library as a result of the arson attack on City Hall by British military and police on the night of 11 / 12 December 1920. Whether the destruction of the Library was deliberate or not, the Library lost its complete reference bookstock and all lending stock not out on loan at the time. The last section will relate how the city was without a public library for almost four years, until a lending service was restored in temporary premises in Tuckey Street at the end of September 1924. The amazing story of how Wilkinson sought and received donations of books from people in Ireland, Britain, North America and many other parts of the world, will be revealed.www.corkcitylibraries.ie
Enduring Legacy – Archives from Cork, 1920
Opening date: Wednesday 22nd January 2020
Cork City and County Archives Service is delighted to present an exhibition of a selection of surviving unique original local archives and documents from 1920, touching on various events and themes, including the first election in which women had the vote and also the first to use proportional representation, the election of the first republican dominated City Council, the election of the first republican Lord Mayor, Tomás MacCurtain, and the pledge by the new Council of allegiance to Dáil Éireann, the assassination of Tomas MacCurtain, the election of Terence MacSwiney and his subsequent death on hunger strike, and the Burning of Cork and the immediate reconstruction efforts, as well as the escalation of the Anglo-Irish conflict both militarily and politically in 1920.
Dara McGrath: For Those,That Tell No Tales
11 September – 8 November 2020
Between 1919 and 1921, almost 1400 people died in the struggle for the recognition of an independent and free Ireland. Cork and its county saw the bloodiest of the fighting, in total 528 people lost their lives directly due to the conflict. Beyond the recognised memorials to the volunteers and major landmarks of significance there are many more sites where men, women, children and members of the British forces lost their lives and are not acknowledged or marked in any way. Dara McGrath’s photographic focus on these overlooked and unmarked sites give a timely, unnerving presence and look to reassert these lost lives into the history and its interpretation of this troubled time. www.crawfordartgallery.ie
Citizen Nowhere / Citizen Somewhere
29 November 2020 – 21 March 2021
Citizen Nowhere / Citizen Somewhere focuses on the international legacy of Terence MacSwiney’s hunger strike and death, and the idea of nation as an imagined state to which MacSwiney’s own essays, Principles of Freedom, aspired. The exhibition will look at the often transitory nature of nationhood and features contemporary artists’ responses to their own countries’ status – many whose leaders had been directly influenced by MacSwiney’s words and actions – from being citizen of nowhere, under direct rule, to being a citizen of somewhere after liberation.www.crawfordartgallery.ie