Virtual History Conference to mark the centenary of the Terence MacSwiney and the Cork Men’s Gaol Hunger Strike

8 Oct 2020
Professor Chris Williams, Head of College of Arts Celtic Studies and Social Science, UCC, Lord Mayor Cllr. Joe Kavanagh and Stephanie Kavanagh, Lady Mayoress. Credit: Tomas Tyner.

The public is invited to log onto a three-day online centenary conference exploring the events leading up to the death of patriot Lord Mayor of Cork, Terence MacSwiney and the Cork Men’s Gaol Hunger Strike.

Hosted by UCC, and funded by Cork City Council and the Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht, the virtual event has been organised to mark the centenary of the hunger strike of Irish republicans in Brixton Prison and Cork Men’s Gaol.

Over the course of three days, 30 historians from across Irish universities, the UK, US and India will explore various aspects of  the 1920 hunger strike which aroused intense international attention.  The UCC campus includes the site of the old Cork Men’s Gaol.

The conference, which is being held virtually on Zoom due to Covid-19 restrictions, is taking place from 12.45-6pm tomorrow, Thursday, October 8, and continues on Friday and Saturday, June 9 and 10,  from 12-6pm.

Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Joe Kavanagh said: “ There is an incredible opportunity to gain some fascinating insight into the events of 100 years ago and how the Cork hunger strikers played a pivotal role in influencing thinking about Irish nationalism. Many of us regularly walk, drive or cycle past Gaol’s Cross regularly, not fully realising what a key historical site it is. As Dr Borgonovo has illustrated, the Cork Men’s Gaol strike was a critical precursor to the drama played out by Terence MacSwiney in London”.

Conference co-organiser,  Dr John Borgonovo from the UCC School of History said: “While the hunger strike tactic had been deployed prior to 1920, the Cork/Brixton strike was distinctive for lasting three months and the ultimate death of three prisoners, including  Lord Mayor of Cork, Terence MacSwiney”.

“Drawing intense public interest, the strike created a political crisis in Britain and Ireland, and made Terence MacSwiney into a global figure, “ he added.

This conference,  explores various aspects of the 1920 Cork/Brixton hunger strike including the perils of force feeding, the medical and legal ethics of hunger strikes, cultural, spiritual, and international responses to the strike, and various aspects of Terence MacSwiney and the other Cork strikers. 

To register for the conference and to see further details on the lectures:


University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF