Terence James MacSwiney, 28 March 1879 – 25 October 1920 was an Irish playwright, author and politician. He was elected as Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Cork during the Irish War of Independence in 1920.He was arrested by the British Government on charges of sedition and imprisoned in Brixton Prison. His death there in October 1920 after 74 days on hunger strike brought him and the Irish Republican campaign to international attention.
Described as a sensitive poet-intellectual,MacSwiney’s writings in the newspaper Irish Freedom brought him to the attention of the Irish Republican Brotherhood. He was one of the founders of the Cork Brigade of the Irish Volunteers in 1913, and was President of the Cork branch of Sinn Féin. He founded a newspaper, Fianna Fáil, in 1914, but it was suppressed after only 11 issues. In April 1916, he was intended to be second in command of the Easter Rising in Cork and Kerry, but stood down his forces on the order of Eoin MacNeill.
Following the rising, he was imprisoned by the British Government under the Defence of the Realm Act in Reading and Wakefield Gaols until December 1916. In February 1917 he was deported from Ireland and imprisoned in Shrewsbury and Bromyard internment camps until his release in June 1917. It was during his exile in Bromyard that he married Muriel Murphy of the Cork distillery-owning family.In November 1917, he was arrested in Cork for wearing an Irish Republican Army (IRA) uniform, and, inspired by the example of Thomas Ashe, went on a hunger strike for three days prior to his release.
In the 1918 general election, MacSwiney was returned unopposed to the first Dáil Éireann as Sinn Féin representative for Mid Cork, succeeding the Nationalist MP D. D. Sheehan. After the murder of his friend Tomás Mac Curtain, the Lord Mayor of Cork on 20 March 1920, MacSwiney was elected as Lord Mayor. On 12 August 1920, he was arrested in Cork for possession of “seditous articles and documents”, and also possession of a cipher key. He was summarily tried by a court on 16 August and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment at Brixton Prison in England.