Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy convened a special meeting today in Cork County Hall to mark the centenary of the sitting of the very first Dáil.
1918 was a significant year in Irish history, both nationally and internationally. Democracy was coming to the fore following the ending of World War I. In Ireland, the elections of December 14th, 1918 afforded all men over the age of 21 and, for the very first time, women over the age of 30, the right to vote and indeed stand for Parliament.
Of the 105 seats available across the island of Ireland, those who stood behind an independent Ireland stood out in front when the results of the election were announced. 73 seats went to Sinn Féin, including nine from the County of Cork, represented by: Liam De Róiste; James J. Walsh, David Kent, Terence MacSwiney, Patrick O’Keeffe, Thomas Hunter, Michael Collins, Diarmuid Lynch and Seán Hayes.
Rather than take their seats at Parliament in London, the elected men and sole woman, Countess Markievicz, established their own Government, Dáil Éireann meaning ‘the Assembly of Ireland’. This decision would set in train the Anglo-Irish War of Independence and subsequent Irish Civil War with County Cork playing a pivotal role in both.
Dr. Neil Buttimer, Department Of Modern Irish, U.C.C., who has an in-depth knowledge of the era, gave a keynote address, entirely in Irish, fitting given that the First Dáil was itself held in Irish.
Cllr Frank O’Flynn, Chair of the Commemorations Committee spoke of the importance of commemorating those who have made Ireland the place it is today, “100 years ago Cork County Council’s Chairperson was none other than William Kent, who lost his mother two years prior and two of his brothers in 1916, Richard and Thomas Kent. A further brother David from Castlelyons sat on the First Dáil, representing the people of North Cork along with Thomas Hunter of Castletownroche, and Patrick OKeeffe from Cullen.”
Chief Executive of Cork County Council Tim Lucey went on to say, “The work of Cork County Council today echoes the very values of those first representatives, who even 100 years ago had the foresight to speak of physical, mental and spiritual well being, as stated in the Democrative Programme for the first Dáil.”
Commenting on this milestone, Mayor Murphy highlighted how significant today is in Irish history, “I called this special meeting for each of us to have the opportunity to remember together, the very first sitting of Dáil Éireann, which took place in the Mansion House in Dublin on Tuesday, 21st January 1919. This was a momentous day in the story of Ireland and I am proud to be part of this meeting today as Mayor of the County.”