Tipperary Brigade Cap Badge

The 3rd Tipperary Brigade was one of approximately 80 such units that constituted the Irish Republican Army since the time of their formation from the Irish Volunteers, until after the Civil War. The Brigade was based in southern Tipperary and conducted its activities mainly in mid-Munster.

Sean Hogans Column , 3.rd Tipperary Brigade

Dan Breen wanted poster

The 3rd Tipperary Brigade was one of the most active during the War of Independence  The ambush led by Treacy, Robinson and Breen at Soloheadbeg  is generally acknowledged as the opening engagement of that war. Two members of the Royal Irish Constabulary, James McDonnell and Patrick O’Connell were killed in the attack. Breen has left apparently conflicting accounts of their intentions that day. One implies that the purpose of the confrontation was merely to capture explosives and detonators being escorted to a nearby quarry. The other, that the group intended killing the police escort in order to provoke a military response.

Treacy had stated to me that the only way of starting a war was to kill someone, and we wanted to start a war, so we intended to kill some of the police whom we looked upon as the foremost and most important branch of the enemy forces … The only regret that we had following the ambush was that there were only two policemen in it, instead of the six we had expected.

IRA Squad-Tipperary south

As a result of the action,martial law was declared in South Tipperary Tracey, Robinson and Breen relocated to Dublin and were associated with a unit known as The squad.. Tracey was eventually killed in an exchange of fire with a British secret service agent in Talbot street, while Breen and Robinson would later alternate between Tipperary and Dublin as the conflict continued.

Civil War

Reservations about the Treaty caused division within the Brigade. Some members sided with the Provisional Government, (later the Irish Free state), while others remained neutral during the ensuing Civil War. The majority, including the flying column commander Dinny Lacey and Seumas Robinson, took the Republican side. Lacey was killed in action against Free State troops in 1923 in the Glen of Aherlow while Robinson was a General throughout the civil war.

Tipperary Brigade Men,

Sean Treacy

sean treacy signing in book mountjoy jail 1917

Galtee boy Dinny Lacey Killed during the civil war

3rd Tipperary Brigade Memorial

Knocklong Rescue

Knocklong Station

A member of the Soloheadbeg ambush party, Hogan was arrested on 12 May 1919 The three others (Treacy, Breen and Seamus Robinson) were joined by five men from IRA East Limerick Brigade (Ned Foley, Sean Lynch, John Joe O’Brien, Ned O’Brien, Jim Scanlon) in order to organise Hogan’s rescue.

Hogan was being transported by train to Cork on 13 May 1919, and the men, lead by Treacy, boarded the train in Knocklong. A close-range shoot-out followed on the train. Treacy and Breen were seriously wounded in the gun fight, two policemen died, but Hogan was rescued. He was spirited away to Knocklong village where his handcuffs were cleaved by Sean Lynch.



  1. Owen Purcell March 17, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    I’m looking for info on the Mary Willies ambush. My father, Willie was there and his brothers Dick and Mick. Would like to know exactly what happened as what he told me as a youngster was a lot less detailed then when I visited Mary willies and talk to some friends. He grew up about 100yds up the road from the pub. Thanks for anything you can provide.

    • maher1905 August 4, 2014 at 1:35 pm

      In brief, during the civil war on 7th July 1922 The Republican troops proceeded towards Urlingford. After an earlier engagement with the Free State Forces that night they proceeded to the Free State Barracks there and continued the assault burning it to the ground and taking prisoners. The account continues that they went back towards Longfordpass and halted at “Mary Willies”. They were ambushed here by the Free State Army. After a strong engagement the Republican Army made their way to Ballingarry. A much more detailed account is available on-line in the Military Archives. (Google Longfordpass Ambush) My dad, Joseph Maher, Ballysloe (Pub) was there, at that time in the Glengoole Company Tipperary III Brigade Denis Lacy and Bill Quirke Commanding Officers.

  2. Paul McCormack December 19, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    I am looking for any information on my two Granduncles Billy (William) McCormack and Michael McCormack from Mooresfort both served in the IRA. Bill was in the battle of Killmallock and so was Michael but on different sides. Bill went on to England and joined the RAF in WW2 and Michael was known till his death in as “The colonel” (Free State Army)

  3. Mick November 25, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    The group in the truck are Jack Killeen’s Column. Photo was taken early in the Civil War as Killeen was captured September 1922. That’s him standing by the lorry.

  4. fred molloy July 8, 2012 at 6:20 am

    i’m looking to find any information on a paddy keogh who served under sean treacy and with dan breen, he was a bomb maker and is mentioned in breens My fight for Irelands freedom. i would be very grateful for any help as i am completeing a family biography and Paddy Keogh was my father in law. thank you.

    • N O'Connell September 9, 2012 at 6:48 pm

      Hi Fred,

      The bureau of military history can be good for this. Recently they have made a lot of witness statements online. http://www.bureauofmilitaryhistory.ie/bmhsearch/browse.jsp
      Maybe try the national archives: http://www.nationalarchives.ie/
      When the Brits left they took a lot of archives with them from dublin castle. The english national archives website is very detailed.

      Hope this helps

      • tom english January 8, 2013 at 8:46 pm

        trying to get any information on my grand uncle Patrick English killed in civil war on 6 or 8 July 1922 outside Mary Willies pub Urlingford .Where would I go to get information civil war?I think his name is on headstone above P Mac Inglir not sure dont know his irish name

        • Tom Greene October 30, 2013 at 11:16 pm

          Your grand uncle is on a different panel on the memorial that shows the Cahir Battalion got to http://www.irishwarmemorials.ie/html/showPicture.php?pictureID=1199 and you will see his name P Mac Inglis

          Paddy Hackett has written a couple of books about the Tipp IRA; No1 and No2 Brigades so far sure that he will get to do No.3 Brigade and they might be useful. Most Civil War info from IRA side is often oral family history speak to some of the locals in your great uncles home area.

        • maher1905 August 4, 2014 at 1:05 pm

          My dad, Joseph Maher, Ballysloe (Pub) was at Mary Willies on both days. He was at that time in the Glengoole Company Tipperary III Brigade Denis Lacy and Bill Quirke Commanding Officers (Anti-treaty). Thankfully he survived (and I’m here!). An account of the Ambush is on-line in the Military Archives dealing with the Civil War. Whilst my dad is not mentioned in this by name having obtained his Records from the Department of Defence recently confirmed his involvement in this Ambush and other engagements both during the War of Independence and Civil War.
          The account of the Ambush states that towards the end of the engagement, “The men rose and went down the road. It was at this moment that Paddy English of Rehill (“K” Coy. 6th Battalion) was hit by an enemy bullet. The wound was mortal and poor English died in a few minutes. Another man was wounded also but not fatally.”
          I hope this is of some help to you.

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