In early June 191, Constance Markievicz was arrested yet again and in Mallow, on 15 June, was sentenced to four months in Cork city gaol for making a seditious speech urging the boycotting of local RIC officers. She had been escorted to Mallow on a special train with about 30 police and “30 enemy soldiers armed to the teeth”.
“The charge is an absurdity and boils down to advising people to avoid the police; girls not to walk out with them, boys not to drink with them, ” she wrote to Kathleen Clarke. She had quoted Swift’s phrase “Burn everything British except their coal,” when addressing a meeting in Newmarket, which one policeman took literally . “I don’t know what the Peeler’s thoughts were, who or what he believed I was urging people to burn”. There was a further allegation that she had told people to ill-treat the children of policemen at their schools, which horrified her: “I would not be represented as making war on children,” she wrote to Nora Connolly.
To her sister Eva she wrote: “This is the most comfortable jail I have been in yet. There’s a nice garden, full of pinks, and you can hear the birds sing. I have heaps of friends here who send me in lots of very good food – in fact all my meals.”
In another letter to Eva – who must have been worried about her sister – a few days later she adds: “My arrest came just at the right moment! Also I wanted a little rest and a change of air! The climate here is lovely and the situation perfect, on a hill facing to the south.”
* Cork City Gaol, in Sunday’s Well, which had 100 cells usually occupied by petty criminals, is now a museum open to visitors year round. A tour costs €12. See https://corkcitygaol.com/