Supported by the BAI and the Television Licence Fund
Terence MacSwiney’s death by hunger strike was a pivotal moment in Irish history that rocked the world. One hundred years on, this documentary presented by historian Sarah-Anne Buckley, uses cutting edge science and the witness testimony of three women who were there by his bedside – his wife Muriel and his sisters Mary and Annie - to recreate the untold story of the last 74 days of his life,
One of the longest hunger strikes on record, MacSwiney's actions rocked the British Empire and later inspired similar action worldwide, from Nelson Mandela to Gandhi..
His hunger strike was a catalyst for the intensification of the War of Independence and the worldwide publicity it gained was a factor in shaming the British Government to come to the negotiating table. The ultimate outcome of those negotiations was the Irish Free State - the forerunner of the state we live in today.
The example of MacSwiney’s hunger strike was also one of the primary blueprints for the hunger strikes in the North of Ireland during the Troubles, particularly in 1981.
As a result, the story of his hunger strike has, in many quarters, been deemed too toxic a topic to broach - the MacSwiney story has long been side-lined. He is known internationally in places that have had their own independence struggles such as Vietnam and Catalonia but he has been highly overlooked here at home.
MacSwiney’s hunger strike is one of the great, marginal stories from modern Irish history and in this documentary we look squarely at this difficult and unsettling episode of our past and finally tell it in its entirety.
74 Days - inside Terence MacSwiney's Hunger Strike aired on RTÉ October 2020 - the hundred year anniversary of MacSwiney's death.