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Tomás Mac Curtain
Born 20 March 1884(1884-03-20)
Mourne Abbey, Ireland
Died 20 March 1920 (aged 36)
at Cork City, Ireland
Nationality Irish
Occupation Lord Mayor of Cork
Known for Assassinated Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Cork.

Tomás Mac Curtain (20 March 1884 - 20 March 1920) was a Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Cork, Ireland. He was elected in January 1920.

He was born at Ballyknockane in the Parish of Mourne Abbey in March 1884. He attended Burnfort National School. In 1897 the family moved to Blackpool on the northside of Cork (city). Mac Curtain became active in numerous cultural and political movements from the turn of the nineteenth century when he joined the Blackpool, Cork branch of Conradh na Gaeilge (the Gaelic League), becoming its secretary in 1902. He had diverse interests in music, poetry, history, archaeology and Irish history. He worked in his early career as a clerk and in his free time taught Irish to those who wished to learn. In 1911 he joined the Fianna Éireann. His devotion to the Irish language and independence attracted the attentions of the British authorities and he served prison terms in 1916 and 1917.

He met Eilish Walsh (Eibhlís Breathnach) at a Gaelic League meeting and they married in 1908.[1] They had six children, five of whom survived into adulthood. The family lived over number 40 Thomas Davis Street where Tomás had a small clothing and rainwear factory.

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, making changes to the way in which the council operated and was run.

'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.[2] In the wake of the killing which was in revenge for the shooting of a policeman[3], Mac Curtain's house in the city's Blackpool area, was ransacked.

The killing caused widespread public outrage.[4] The coroner's inquest passed a verdict of wilful murder against British Prime Minister Lloyd George and against certain members of the RIC.[2] The IRA later killed the man who ordered the attack, District Inspector Oswald Swanzy, in Lisburn, County Antrim on 22 August 1920 using Mac Curtain's personal handgun, sparking a "pogrom" of Catholics in the town.[5][6] 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.[7]

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)[8]. Ironically he would be sentenced to death by the De Valera government for mortally wounding Garda Síochána John Roche in Cork city centre on 3 January 1940 after Roche had shadowed him for weeks. The sentence was not carried out, probably for fear of a public reaction; the sentence was commuted to penal servitude for life. In the event, he was released after seven years.


  1. ^ Tomas MacCURTAIN at
  2. ^ a b Coogan, Tim (1991). Michael Collins. Arrow Books. pp. 123–124. ISBN 0-09-968580-9.  
  3. ^ Peter Hart, The IRA at War 1916-1923, p. 77
  4. ^ O'Sullivan, Donal J (1999). The Irish constabularies, 1822-1922: a century of policing in Ireland. Brandon,. pp. 303. ISBN 9780863222573.  
  5. ^ Coogan, p. 149.
  6. ^ 'When the killing starts do you defend God or family?' Irish Independent, [1], accessed 15/12/09,
  7. ^ Coogan, p. 155.
  8. ^ Seán Cronin. Frank Ryan, p. 178. Repsol-Skellig, 1980. ISBN 0860640183
Civic offices
Preceded by
William F. O'Connor
Lord Mayor of Cork
Succeeded by
Terence MacSwiney


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