Michael Fitzgerald (Irish republican)

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Michael Fitzgerald also known as Mick Fitzgerald, (December 1881  – 17 October 1920) was among the first members of the Irish Republican Army and played an important role in organizing it. He rose to the rank of Commandant OC in the First Battalion, Cork Number 2 Brigade. He died in the 1920 hunger strike at Cork Gaol. His death is credited with bringing world-wide attention to the Irish cause for independence.

Early life[edit]

Born in Ballyoran, Fermoy, County Cork, Fitzgerald was educated at the Christian Brothers School in the town and subsequently found work as a mill worker in the locality. He joined the Irish Volunteers in 1914 and played an important role in building the local organisation which was soon to become the Irish Republican Army (IRA). He soon rose to the rank of Battalion Commandant, 1st Battalion, Cork No.2 Brigade.[1][2][3]

IRA activities[edit]

On Easter Sunday, April 20, 1919 Michael Fitzgerald led a small group of IRA volunteers who captured Araglin, Cork Royal Irish Constabulary Baracks located on the border with Tipperary. He was subsequently arrested and sentenced to three months imprisonment at Cork Jail.[4] Fitzgerald was released from prison in August 1919 and immediately returned to active IRA duty. He was involved in the holding up of a party of British Army troops at the Wesleyan Church in Fermoy. The troops were disarmed although one of them was killed.[1]

1920 hunger strike[edit]

Michael Fitzgerald, along with Terence MacSwiney and nine other IRA volunteers, was arrested on 8 August 1920. On August 11, 1920, MacSwiney began a hunger strike. Fitzgerald and the other nine volunteers joined in. Fitzgerald was the first to die on October 17, 1920 as a result of the fast[5] He was followed by Joe Murphy and Terence McSwiney.[1][6] Their deaths are credited with bringing world-wide attention to the Irish cause for independence.[2]


Michael Fitzgerald is buried at Kilcrumper Cemetery, on the outskirts of Fermoy. In addition, a road was named after him in Togher, Cork.[1]

During a November 2008 visit to Fermoy, County Cork Sinn Féin Vice-President Pat Doherty laid a wreath at Fitzgerald's grave. Doherty said Fitzgerald's sacrifice was like that of the hunger strikers in 1981. He said it was a great honour for him to pay homage to a man "to whom we owe so much." Also buried in the Republican Plot in Fermoy is General Liam Lynch, who was Chief of Staff of the IRA when he was shot dead by Free State troops on the Knockmealdown Mountains on 12 April 1923. His last wish was to be buried with his great friend and comrade, Mick Fitzgerald.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Cork Jail Memorial Souvenir (pamphlet), 1948, Cló na Laoí (The Lee Press), Cork.
  2. ^ a b Peter Hart. Rebel Cork's Fighting Story. 1916-21. Told by the Men Who Made It. Edited by Peter Hart. Mercier Press, Cork 2009. Pages 117-120.
  3. ^ Peter Hart. The I.R.A and Its Enemies: Violence and Community in Cork 1916-1923. Oxford University Press. 1998. pp 248-249.
  4. ^ "Commandant Michael Fitzgerald". Homepage.eircom.net. Retrieved 2014-05-21. 
  5. ^ Copyright, 1920, by The New York Times Company. Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES. (1920-10-18). "October 17, 1920 Michael Fitzgerald". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-06-02. 
  6. ^ Joseph Murphy Dies of 76 Days' Hunger Strike, the Second Prisoner to Succumb in Cork Jail, New York Times, 26 October 1920
  7. ^ "Commandant Mick Fitzgerald honoured". An Phoblacht. Retrieved 2014-05-21. 

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