Thomas Mac Curtain

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Thomas Mac Curtain

Also Known As: "Thomas Curtin"
Birthplace: Ballyknockane,Mourneabbey, Cork
Death: March 20, 1920 (36)
Cork, Cork City, Cork, Ireland
Immediate Family:

Son of Patrick Curtin and Julia Sheehan
Husband of Eibhlís Breathnach
Father of Tomás Óg Mac Curtain
Brother of Patrick Curtin; Margaret Curtin; Ellen Curtin; Julia Curtin; Mary Curtin and 6 others

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About Thomas Mac Curtain

Thomas Mac Curtain

Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Cork, Ireland.

Easter Rising and military career

In April 1916 at the outset of the Easter Rising Mac Curtain commanded a force of up to 1,000 men of the Irish Volunteers who assembled at various locations around County Cork. From the volunteers headquarters at Sheare's Street in the city, Mac Curtain and his officers awaited orders from the volunteer leadership in Dublin but conflicting instructions and confusion prevailed and as a result the Cork volunteers never entered the fray. A tense stand-off developed when British forces surrounded the volunteer hall and continued for a week until a negotiated agreement led to the surrender of the volunteers' arms to the then Lord Mayor of Cork Thomas Butterfield on the understanding that they would be returned at a later date. This did not happen however and Mac Curtain was jailed in the former Frongoch Prisoner of War camp in Wales. After the general amnesty of participants in the Rising 18 months later Mac Curtain returned to active duty as a Commandant of what was now the Irish Republican Army.

By 1918 Mac Curtain was a brigade commander - the highest and most important rank in the IRA. GHQ carried out a radical restructuring. In County Cork, for example, three brigades were created with set boundaries. Frank Hynes battalion, was an example of a whole unit being dissolved to be divided into smaller ranks, as two staffs were elected ]During the Conscription Crisis in the autumn 1918, he actively encouraged the hiring of the women of Cumann na mBan to cater for Volunteers.]Mac Curtain was personally involved with Collins Squad that with a Cork battalion attempted to assassinate Lord French, whose car was missed as the convoy passed through the ambush positions. Despite the setback he remained brigadier of No.1 Cork when he was elected Lord Mayor. He was elected in the January 1920 council elections as the Sinn Féin councillor for NW Ward No. 3 of Cork, and was chosen by his fellow councillors to be the Lord Mayor. He began a process of political reform within the city.

'Tomás Mac Curtain 1884-1920 Ardmhéara Chorcaí 30 Eanáir- 20 Márta 1920'


In January 1919 the Anglo-Irish war started and Mac Curtain became an officer in the IRA. On 20 March 1920, his 36th birthday, Mac Curtain was shot dead in front of his wife and son by a group of men with blackened faces, who were found to be members of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) by the official inquest into the event.[6] In the wake of the killing which was in revenge for the shooting of a policeman Mac Curtain's house in the city's Blackpool area, was ransacked.

The killing caused widespread public outrage The coroner's inquest passed a verdict of wilful murder against British Prime Minister Lloyd George and against certain members of the RIC.Michael Collins later ordered his personal assassination squad to hunt down and kill the police officers involved in the attack. RIC District Inspector Oswald Swanzy, who had ordered the attack, was fatally shot with Mac Curtain's own revolver while leaving a Protestant church in Lisburn, County Antrim on 22 August 1920, sparking a "pogrom" against the Catholic residents of the town.Mac Curtain is buried in St. Finbarr's Cemetery, Cork.

His successor to the position of Lord Mayor, Terence MacSwiney, died while on hunger strike in Brixton prison, London.

Tomás Óg Mac Curtain

Mac Curtain's son, Tomás Óg (junior) (1915–1994) later became a leading republican and member of the IRA Executive (whose main purpose was to elect the Chief of Staff of the IRA). In 1940, he was sentenced to death by the De Valera government for mortally wounding a Garda Síochána at the end of St. Patrick Street Cork city centre on 3 January 1940. Detective Garda Roche, from Union Quay Barracks, had shadowed him for weeks and following a confrontation, he was shot. However Tomás was granted clemency because his father had been killed by the British Army. He was released after seven years. He later served on the IRA executive during the Border Campaign.

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Thomas Mac Curtain's Timeline

March 20, 1884
Ballyknockane,Mourneabbey, Cork
Age 30
March 20, 1920
Age 36
Cork, Cork City, Cork, Ireland