The Hunger Strike that Rocked an Empire

Dave Hannigan
Terence MacSwiney

Using newly-released archive material, Dave Hannigan has pieced together a gripping, dramatic, and poignant account of one man’s courageous stand against the might of an empire.

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336 pages
216x135 mm

Also available as an Electronic Book (ePub)

Category History, Politics

At the end of his court-martial on August 16th, 1920, Terence MacSwiney, the Lord Mayor of Cork, greeted his sentence of two years in jail by declaring: ‘I have decided the term of my imprisonment…I shall be free, alive or dead, within a month.’

Four days earlier, British troops had stormed the City Hall in Cork and arrested MacSwiney on charges of possessing an RIC cipher and documents likely to cause disaffection to his Majesty. He immediately began a hunger strike that sparked riots on the streets of Barcelona, caused workers to down tools on the New York waterfront, and prompted mass demonstrations from Buenos Aires to Boston.

Enthralled by MacSwiney breaking all previous records for a prisoner going without food, the international press afforded the case so much coverage that Ireland’s War of Independence was suddenly parachuted onto the world stage, and King George V was considering over-ruling Prime Minister Lloyd George and enduring a constitutional crisis.

As his wife, brothers and sisters kept daily vigil around his bed in Brixton Prison, watching his strength ebb away hour by hour, MacSwiney’s fast had Michael Collins preparing reprisal assassinations, Ho Chi Minh waxing lyrical about the Corkman’s bravery, and rumours abounding that he was being secretly fed via the communion wafer being given to him each day by his chaplain.

Using newly-released archive material, Dave Hannigan has pieced together a gripping, dramatic, and poignant account of one man’s courageous stand against the might of an empire.

Dave Hannigan is a sports columnist with The Sunday Tribune, the Evening Echo and New York’s Irish Echo.

He is the author of three previous books and is also an adjunct professor of history at Suffolk County Community College on Long Island.

if the excerpt ... is anything to go by, it should be a rollicking read

Southern Star


Evening Echo

a vivid and compelling account of one of the most momentous episodes in Ireland’s struggle for self-determination

Evening Echo

a gripping read ... goes far in explaining the fascination with MacSwiney then and still

Irish Times

Hannigan has an acute eye for detail and for the richness of information and misinformation in newspaper sources

Irish Times

absorbing and often unsettling detail

Irish Times

a compelling exploration of a modern media moment

Irish Times

Cork-born journalist Dave Hannigan has produced a very fine book ... a full and compelling account of a man who was selflessly devoted to an ideal

Sunday Business Post

Hannigan, by choosing to write solely about the hunger strike and the events that transpired worldwide as a result, has written a powerful fast-paced book. This is a story that inspired a tremendous national and international reaction at the time and as

The Irish Story

This compressed time frame gives the book the qualities of a novel, it is a real page-turner and the reader will find it hard to put down thanks in no small way to the author’s journalistic style. As the drama unfolds the shadow of MacSwiney’s inevitable

The Irish Story

Hannigan’s account of a family desperately seeking to find a way to protect their imprisoned loved one is a heart rending one ... a compelling poignant page turner

The Irish Story


Westmeath Independent


Reader Reviews

The first book I have ever finished reading. Excellent!

John on 14th March 2011

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