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The Burning of Cork

By December, 1920, the Irish War of Independence was raging out of control and Cork was in the eye of the storm.

It was a guerrilla war fuelled by reprisal and counter reprisal - the city streets became the battleground of a bloody and personalised war of attrition.

On the night of December 11th 1920 - Cork City was to experience an unprecedented night of terror and destruction at the hand of the British Forces of Law and Order.

With over five acres of the city destroyed and an estimated ?20 million worth of damage, the Burning of Cork is recognised as the most extensive single act of vandalism in the entire period of the nationalist struggle.

The Burning of Cork cannot be regarded as an isolated incident in the nine months leading up to the night. The city witnessed an ever escalating cycle of violence as attacks by the Volunteers were answered by the predictable reprisal by the Forces of the Crown.

With two Lord Mayors dead and various high profile officers of the British authority kidnapped or assassinated by December, 1920, the fuse had been lit for events that would unfold on the night Cork City was burnt.

This documentary features contributions from direct descendants of high ranking republicans who died in this turbulent period:

Máire MacSwiney Brugha, daughter of Terence MacSwiney, who was captured, imprisoned in Bristol and died on hunger strike while serving as elected Mayor of Cork;

Fionnuala MacCurtain, grand-daughter of Mayor McCurtain who was gunned down in his own home in front of his wife and family, also while serving as Mayor of Cork;

  • Dr Donal Ó Drisceoil, Professor of History at UCC;
  • Dr Brendan O'Shea - Military historian.
  • Pat Poland - Fire Historian
  • Meda Ryan - author, The Day Michael Collins Was Shot
  • Gerry White - Military historian.
  • Aingeal Ní Cháinte O'Buachalla - niece of the Delany brothers shot dead on the night Cork was burned.

The Burning of Cork' was produced by Seaview Pictures for RTÉ Television.

The Burning of Cork
The Burning of Cork