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Seán Hogan's (No.2) Flying Column, 3rd Tipperary Brigade, during the Irish War of Independence.

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 core of the unit from its earliest existence was the group known as 'The Big Four'. These were Seán Treacy, Dan Breen, Séamus Robinson and Seán Hogan.

War of Independence[]

Reward poster for Breen following imposition of martial law

File:Denis Lacey.jpg

Dinny Lacey, commander of the No. 1 Flying Column

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.[1] The other, that the group intended killing the police escort 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."[2]

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 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.

On-line sources[]

Ó Duibhir : The Tipperary Volunteers in 1916: A Personal Account 75 Years On : from County Tipperary Historical Society :THJ : 1991
Aengus O Snodaigh (21 January 1999). "Gearing up for war: Soloheadbeg 1919". An Phoblacht. 
Brendan A. Creaner : The Rescue at Knocklong (8 December 2003)
Lt Col. T. Ryan : (a) : One Man's Flying Column Part I : THJ : 1991
Ryan : ...............(b) : One Man's Flying Column; Part II : THJ : 1992
Colmcille : (a) : The Third Tipperary Brigade (1921–1923); Part I- From Truce to Civil War  : THJ : 1990
Colmcille : (b) : The Third Tipperary Brigade (1921–1923); Part II- From Ambushes to Executions  : THJ : 1991
Colmcille : (c) : The Third Tipperary Brigade (1921–1923); Part III- The End of the Civil War: THJ : 1992
All preceding accessed on or after 2 Nov 2008


Breen,Dan : My Fight for Irish Freedom : 1926 : ISBN 978-0-900068-34-8
Ryan, Desmond : Sean Treacy and the 3rd. Tipperary Brigade : The Kerryman Limited, 1945
Augusteijn, Joost From Public Defiance to Guerrilla Warfare : 1996 : ISBN 978-0-7165-2607-0
Shelley, John R. A Short History of the 3rd Tipperary Brigade Published by (Phoenix) : 1996
South Tipperary Brigade Poblacht na h-Éireann. Proclamation (explaining the Reasons why the Brigade Feel Impelled to Take Up Arms Against the Government) : 1923
Berresford Ellis, Peter : Eyewitness to Irish History : ISBN 978-0-470-05312-6
All preceding accessed 2 Nov 2008


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