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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
MANY THANKS TO GER RYAN FOR THE USE OF SOME OF THE IMAGES. HIS SITE IS AT http://www.tipperarybrigade.com/