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Douglas during 1917-1921 period

Wednesday, 4th March, 2020 4:28pm

A talk about the struggle for independence in the Douglas and Rochestown area from 1917-1921 will take place tomorrow, 6 March.

Gabriel Doherty from the School of History in UCC will deliver the free talk in Douglas GAA Club.

It will consist of two parts, the first of which examines the general background to the most intense phase of the War of Independence in the locality from 1920-1921.

The second focuses on the military struggle between crown forces and the Irish volunteers in the 18 months prior to the truce in July 1921.

Among the topics covered in the first part is the origins of the separatist movement in the area, with reference to the establishment of the GAA, Gaelic League, Na Fianna Éireann, Cumann na mBan, the Irish Volunteers and Sinn Féin.

It will also examine other developments, such as the growth of labour militancy in the area. Moving on to the Republican movement, it will note a number of prominent republicans who lived in the locality, before discussing its response to the deaths of the two lord mayors, Tomas MacCurtain and Terence MacSwiney, and the broader prison struggle being played out in the autumn of 1920 in Cork and Brixton gaols.

Gabriel Doherty from UCC’s School of History, said: “Mention is made of the extraordinary role played by the Capuchin Friars in Rochestown in the struggle for independence, from their presence at the shoulder of Padraig Pearse as he delivered his famous address at the graveside of Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa in 1915 right the way through to their role in the hunger strikes of Terence MacSwiney, Joseph Murphy and Michael Fitzgerald, and their response to the excommunication edict issued by Bishop Cohalan in the aftermath of the burning of Cork in late 1920.”

This section will conclude by looking at how Rochestown played a pioneering role in the development of the republican courts network.

The second part focusses more specifically on the military struggle in the locality. It notes the high level of volunteer membership and activity including the efforts by those members to obtain and then protect weapons, through raids on private houses, and their attempts to manufacture ammunition and bombs.

It will also focus on member’s several attacks on the train line that ran through the area. The discussion will conclude with a consideration of the most controversial events of all in the locality - the killing of a number of alleged spies and informers in the early months of 1921.

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