From Irish Political Review—February 2005
Cultural vandalism in Cork.

Terence MacSwiney's Principles Of Freedom‚ was republished recently by Cork City Libraries with a Foreword by Maureen Quill to mark the Cork 2005 European Capital of Culture. What was rather odd was that Ms Quill saw fit to dispense with MacSwiney's own Preface which appeared in the original edition and formed part of the work. This was his last published work, written as he began his hunger strike. She replaced it with a Foreword of her own which tells us absolutely nothing new about MacSwiney. His introduction was one of the most interesting parts of the book because it dealt with a very practical issue—the demise of Hibernianism and specifically its demise in Cork. The fact that he wrote about this issue in the circumstances in which he did shows the importance he placed on it and he was quite right to do so. The background to this whole episode of Hibernianism is one of the most interesting, significant and ignored aspects of the Irish independence movement. It was also an episode in which Cork played a unique and magnificent role and the conflict shaped the political culture of Cork for generations. Reference to it (and its celebration) would be most appropriate in the year of Cork as Cultural capital of Europe. Instead we have nothing short of an exercise in cultural vandalism by Ms Quill caused no doubt by her total ignorance of the significance of what MacSwiney had written.

No wonder Cork's official celebration of culture is such a pathetic affair with people like Ms. Quill at the helm.

To seek to partly rectify the matter we reproduce MacSwiney's introduction below.

Author's Preface

It was my intention to publish these articles in book form as soon as possible. I had them typed for the purpose. I had no time for revision save to insert in the typed copy words or lines omitted from the original printed matter. I also made an occasional verbal alteration in the original. One article, however, that on "Intellectual Freedom", though written in the series in the place in which it now stands, was not printed with them. It is now published for the first time.


I wish to make a note on the article under this heading to avoid a possible misconception amongst people outside Ireland. In Ireland there is no religious dissension, but there is religious insincerity. English politicians, to serve the end of dividing Ireland, have worked on the religious feelings of the North, suggesting the danger of Catholic ascendancy. There is not now, and there never was, any such danger, but our enemies, by raising the cry, sowed discord in the North, with the aim of destroying Irish unity. It should be borne in mind that when the Republican Standard was first raised in the field in Ireland, in the Rising of 1798, Catholics and Protestants in the North were united in the cause. Belfast was the first home of Republicanism in Ireland. This is the truth of the matter. The present-day cleavage is an unnatural thing created by Ireland's enemies to hold her in subjection and will disappear with political Freedom.

It has had, however, in our day, one unhappy effect, only for a time, fortunately, and this is disappearing. I refer to the rise of Hibernianism. The English ruling faction having, for their own political designs, corrupted the Orangemen with power and flattery, enabled them to establish an ascendancy, not only over Ulster, but indirectly by their vote over the South. This becoming intolerable, some sincere but misguided Catholics in the North joined the organisation known as The Ancient Order Of Hibernians. This was, in effect, a sort of Catholic Freemasonry to counter the Orange Freemasonry, but like Orangeism, it was a political and not a religious weapon.

Further, as a political weapon, it extended all through Ireland during the last years of the Irish Parliamentary Movement. In Cork, for example, it completely controlled the city life for some years, but the rapid rise of the Republican Movement brought about the equally rapid fall of Hibernianism. At the present moment it has as little influence in the public life of Cork as Sir Edward Carson himself. The great bulk of its one-time members have joined the Republican Movement. This demonstrates clearly that anything in the nature of a sectarian movement is essentially repugnant to the Irish people. As I have pointed out, the Hibernian Order, when created, became at once a political weapon, but Ireland has discarded that, and other such weapons, for those with which she is carving out the destinies of the Republic. For a time, however, Hibernianism created an unnatural atmosphere of sectarian rivalry in Ireland. That has now happily passed away. At the time, however, of the writing of the article on Religion it was at its height, and this fact coloured the writing of the article. On re-reading it considering the publication of the present work I was inclined to suppress it, but decided that it ought to be included because it bears directly on the evil of materialism in religious bodies, which is a matter of grave concern to every religious community in the world.

T. MacS.
Brixton Prison,

Sept., 1920

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