CollectionPapers of Muriel MacSwiney
Collection DescriptionMuriel MacSwiney was born in Queenstown, Co. Cork, to Nicholas Murphy, who owned Cork Distilleries Co. Ltd, and his second wife, Mary Gertrude (née Purcell). She became interested in radical nationalism and the Irish language and joined both Cumann na mBan and the Gaelic League. She met republican Terrence MacSwiney in 1915 and, during the 1916 Rising she brought supplies and information to MacSwiney and other rebels at the Volunteers Hall in Cork. She was engaged to MacSwiney when he left prison in 1917 and they married in the summer of that year. In the years following, Terrence was regularly imprisoned, with Muriel visiting him regularly with their daughter, Máire. His final imprisonment came in 1920 and he began a hunger strike that autumn, which ended in his death. She was opposed to the Treaty and later joined the Irish Communist Party. She later became embroiled in a custody dispute with her sister-in-law, Mary MacSwiney, over her daughter Máire. In 1926, Muriel had a second daughter, Alix, with a French intellectual. She subsequently married a German left-wing activist, who was killed under the Nazi regime. She lived in France in the 1930s, but relocated to England in 1940, after Paris was occupied. Her fortune had run out by the 1950s and she was granted an Irish pension of £500 per annum. She died in London, in a nursing home, in October 1982.
Collection Web Address
ReferenceUCDA P339

Five holograph letters (two incomplete) and one postcard from Muriel MacSwiney to Margaret Corcoran (née Moriarty). Margaret was born in Killorglin, Co. Kerry in 1904 and worked as a nanny/nursery maid in the early part of her life, before moving to Dublin. According to her family, she worked for a time as a nanny to Muriel's daughter, Máire. The letters date from 1953, the postcard from 1954 and are written from London, Paris and Bray. Muriel addresses Margaret as "Máiréad a cáirde", and writes with fondness of their friendship and is grateful for Margaret's support: "I was simply delighted with your letter, & I cried when I got it, & felt that there are still Irish people we can be proud of." She expresses her bitterness at her treatment by Irish people: "I have had only too many fine words & no deeds from Irish people, especially those with too much money...". She writes in detail of her estrangement from her daughter Máire, following what she describes as Máire's kidnapping by Mary MacSwiney from Germany in 1932 and the ensuing court case for custody. Her distress is evident and her account, dramatic (9 August 1953, 20pp). The other letters discuss plans for Muriel and Margaret to meet, Margaret's family, money issues, the Irish government, travel plans, her opinions on religion and a secular state. She discusses her views on unemployment "I think it is one of the most horrible & unjust things in the whole world" (16 September 1953, 6pp). She mentions her second daughter, Alix (28 November 1953, 2pp, incomplete), discusses again Máire's removal from her care (undated, 4pp, incomplete), this time mentioning Jim Larkin as "the only person who behaved very well" and that she has been keeping records of similar cases. [UCD Archives]

AccessBy prior appointment.

This collection was donated by Blanche Corcoran in 2022 on behalf of Patrick Corcoran and Mary Jones, Margaret Corcoran's children.

Produced for consultation in digital format.

Repository NameUCD Archives
AddressJames Joyce Library UCD Belfield Dublin 4
EircodeD04 R7R0
Telephone(01) 716-7555
Repository Web