Tomás Mac Curtain (20 March 1884 – 20 March 1920) was a Sinn Fein Lord Mayor of cork city,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 (corcaigh) where he attended The North Monastery school.. 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 Eireann and was a founding member of the Irish Volunteers .
IRISH VOLUNTEERS AT SHEARES STREET CORK CITY
BACK: P. Cotter, Sean Nolan, Dathi Cotter, Sean Scanlan, Fred Murray. CENTER: Tom O’Sullivan & Diarmuid O’Shea (with rifles), Tom Barry, Pat Corkery, Donal Barrett, Donal Og O’Callaghan, Tadg Barry, Diarmud Lynch, Con Twomey (with rifle) FRONT: Sean Murphy, Tomas MacCurtain, Sean McDermot, Herbert Moore Pim, Sean O’Sullivan, Sean O’Murthille.
He met Eilish Walsh (Eibhlís Breathnach) at a Gaelic League meeting and they married in 1908. 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.
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 locationsaround 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 .
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.
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. 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 LOCATION WHERE Tomás Mac Curtain WAS ASSASSINATED, THERE IS A PLAQUE TO COMMEMORATE Tomás Mac Curtain ON THE UPPER STORY.
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. 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. Mac Curtain is buried in St. Finbarrs 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 January 1940, he was sentenced to death by the De Valera government for mortally wounding Garda John Roche 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 Tomas was granted clemency due to the fact that 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.