The Soloheadbeg ambush took place on 21 January 1919, when members of the Irish Volunteers (or Irish Republican Army, IRA) ambushed Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) officers who were escorting a consignment of gelignite explosives at Soloheadbeg, County Tipperary. Two RIC officers were killed and their weapons and the explosives were seized. The volunteers acted on their own initiative and had not sought authorisation for their action. As it happened on the same day that the revolutionary Irish parliament first met and declared Ireland's independence, it is often seen as the first engagement of the Irish War of Independence.
The Irish Volunteers, sometimes called the Irish Volunteer Force or Irish Volunteer Army, was a military organisation established in 1913 by Irish nationalists. It was ostensibly formed in response to the formation of the Ulster Volunteers in 1912, and its declared primary aim was "to secure and maintain the rights and liberties common to the whole people of Ireland". The Volunteers included members of the Gaelic League, Ancient Order of Hibernians and Sinn Féin, and, secretly, the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB). Increasing rapidly to a strength of nearly 200,000 by mid-1914, it split in September of that year over John Redmond's commitment to the British War effort, with the smaller group retaining the name of "Irish Volunteers".
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) was an Irish republican revolutionary paramilitary organisation. The ancestor of many groups also known as the Irish Republican Army, and distinguished from them as the Old IRA, it was descended from the Irish Volunteers, an organisation established on 25 November 1913 that staged the Easter Rising in April 1916. In 1919, the Irish Republic that had been proclaimed during the Easter Rising was formally established by an elected assembly, and the Irish Volunteers were recognised by Dáil Éireann as its legitimate army. Thereafter, the IRA waged a guerrilla campaign against the British occupation of Ireland in the 1919–21 Irish War of Independence.
The Royal Irish Constabulary was the police force in Ireland from the early nineteenth century until 1922. A separate civic police force, the unarmed Dublin Metropolitan Police, controlled the capital, and the cities of Derry and Belfast, originally with their own police forces, later had special divisions within the RIC. About 75% of the RIC were Roman Catholic and about 25% were of various Protestant denominations.
In April 1916, during the First World War, Irish republicans launched an uprising against British rule in Ireland, called the Easter Rising. They proclaimed an Irish Republic. After a week of heavy fighting, mostly in Dublin, the rising was put down by British forces. About 3,500 people were taken prisoner by the British, many of whom had played no part in the Rising. Most of the Rising's leaders were executed. The rising, the British response, and the British attempt to introduce conscription in Ireland, led to greater public support for Irish republicanism.
The Easter Rising, also known as the Easter Rebellion, was an armed insurrection in Ireland during Easter Week, April 1916. The Rising was launched by Irish republicans to end British rule in Ireland and establish an independent Irish Republic while the United Kingdom was heavily engaged in the First World War. It was the most significant uprising in Ireland since the rebellion of 1798, and the first armed action of the Irish revolutionary period.
The Proclamation of the Republic, also known as the 1916 Proclamation or the Easter Proclamation, was a document issued by the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army during the Easter Rising in Ireland, which began on 24 April 1916. In it, the Military Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, styling itself the "Provisional Government of the Irish Republic", proclaimed Ireland's independence from the United Kingdom. The reading of the proclamation by Patrick Pearse outside the General Post Office (GPO) on Sackville Street, Dublin's main thoroughfare, marked the beginning of the Rising. The proclamation was modelled on a similar independence proclamation issued during the 1803 rebellion by Robert Emmet.
The Conscription Crisis of 1918 stemmed from a move by the British government to impose conscription in Ireland in April 1918 during the First World War. Vigorous opposition was led by trade unions, Irish nationalist parties and Roman Catholic bishops and priests. A conscription law was passed but was never put in effect; no one in Ireland was drafted into the British Army. The proposal and backlash galvanised support for political parties which advocated Irish separatism and influenced events in the lead-up to the Irish War of Independence.
In the general election of December 1918, the Irish republican party Sinn Féin won a landslide victory in Ireland, gaining 73 out of 105 seats (25 of these unopposed) in the British Parliament. However, in its election manifesto, the party had vowed to set up a separate government in Ireland rather than sit in the British Parliament. At a meeting in Dublin on 21 January 1919, Sinn Féin established an independent parliament called Dáil Éireann and declared independence from the United Kingdom.
Sinn Féin is a left-wing Irish republican political party active in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the upper house, the House of Lords, it meets in the Palace of Westminster. Officially, the full name of the house is the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled. Owing to shortage of space, its office accommodation extends into Portcullis House.
The Sinn Féin Manifesto 1918 was that party's election manifesto for the 1918 general election. After its reform in 1917, the Sinn Féin party campaigned against conscription in Ireland. Following the armistice of 11 November 1918 the British Government called a general election for 14 December, in which Sinn Féin won 73 out of 105 seats.
That same day, an ambush would be carried out by Irish Volunteers from the 3rd Tipperary Brigade. It involved Seán Treacy, Dan Breen, Seán Hogan, Séumas Robinson, Tadhg Crowe, Patrick McCormack, Patrick O'Dwyer and Michael Ryan.Robinson (who had participated in the Easter Rising) was the commander of the group that carried out the attack and Treacy (a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood since 1911) coordinated the planning of the attack. The unit involved acted on its own initiative.
The 3rd Tipperary Brigade was one of the most active of approximately 80 such units that constituted the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence. The Brigade was based in southern Tipperary and conducted its activities mainly in mid-Munster.
Seán Treacy was one of the leaders of the Third Tipperary Brigade of the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence. It was his actions that initiated the conflict in 1919. He was killed in October 1920, on Talbot Street in Dublin, in a shootout with British troops and spies during an aborted British Secret Service surveillance operation.
Daniel "Dan" Breen was a volunteer in the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War. In later years he was a Fianna Fáil politician.
In December 1918, they received information that there were plans to move a consignment of gelignite from Tipperary British Army barracks to Soloheadbeg quarry. They began plans to intercept the consignment and Dan Breen's brother Lars, who worked at the quarry, received information that the consignment was to be moved around 16 January 1919. They anticipated that there would be between two and six armed escorts, and they discussed different plans. If the escort was small, they believed they could overpower the RIC officers without firing a shot. Gags and ropes were hidden in the quarry, so that if the officers surrendered they could be bound and gagged.The planning for the ambush took place in the 'Tin Hut', a deserted semi-derelict house at Greenane.
Tipperary is a town and a civil parish in County Tipperary, Ireland. Its population was 4,979 at the 2016 census. It is also an ecclesiastical parish in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly, and is in the historical barony of Clanwilliam. The town gave its name to County Tipperary.
Robinson, who had returned to the Brigade area after his release from jail, was briefed by Treacy about the plans to seize the gelignite. Robinson supported the plan and confirmed with Treacy that they would not request permission from the Irish Volunteer leadership. If they did, they would have to wait for a response, and even if the response was affirmative, it might not come until after the gelignite was moved.
Each day from 16 to 21 January, the men chosen for the ambush took up their positions from early in the morning to late afternoon and then spent the night at the deserted house. Seven of the Volunteers were armed with revolvers while Treacy was armed with a small automatic rifle.On 21 January, around noon, Patrick O'Dwyer saw the transport leaving the barracks. The consignment of 160 lb of gelignite was on a horse-drawn cart, led by two council men and guarded by two RIC officers armed with carbine rifles. O'Dwyer cycled quickly to where the ambush party was waiting and informed them. Robinson and O'Dwyer hid about 20 yards in front of the main ambush party of six, in case they rushed through the main ambush position.
When the transport reached the position where the main ambush party was hiding, masked volunteers stepped out in front of them with their guns drawn and called on the RIC to surrender, shouting "Hands up!" more than once. [ definition needed ] had been overlooked". The volunteers immediately fired at the officers, and it is believed that Treacy fired the first shot. Both officers were killed: James McDonnell and Patrick O'Connell, native Roman Catholics. MacDonnell was shot in the left side of the head and through the left arm; O’Connell was shot through the left side, and was likely in a stooping position. McDonnell was born in Belmullet, County Mayo. He was aged 50 at the time of his death and left behind a widow and five children. O'Connell was unmarried and a native of Coachford, County Cork.It was raining. The officers could see at least three of the ambushers; one officer got down behind the cart and the other apparently fumbled with his rifle. According to the volunteers, the officers raised their rifles to fire at them. Séumas Robinson said the officers attempted to shoot but that the rifles did not fire because "the cut-off
As planned, Hogan, Breen and Treacy took the horse and cart with the explosives and sped off.They hid the explosives in a field in Greenane. The explosives were moved several times and later divided up between the battalions of the brigade. Tadhg Crowe and Patrick O'Dwyer took the guns and ammunition from the dead officers, while Robinson, McCormack and Ryan guarded the two council workers, Ned Godfrey and Patrick Flynn, before releasing them once the gelignite was far enough away.
Breen gave apparently conflicting accounts of their intentions that day. One account implies that the purpose of the confrontation was merely to capture explosives and detonators being escorted to a nearby quarry.However, almost thirty years later he told the Bureau of Military History that he and Treacy 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 we had following the ambush was that there were only two policemen in it, instead of the six we had expected".
Séumas Robinson said that they would not have "shot down men in cold blood, although certainly we had no intention of being intimidated by the armed guard".Patrick O'Dwyer said the plan had been to "disarm them and seize the gelignite without bloodshed if possible", and Tadhg Crowe said they did not believe the ambush would end in violence.
The ambush would later be seen as the beginning of the Irish War of Independence.The British government declared South Tipperary a Special Military Area under the Defence of the Realm Act two days later. There was strong condemnation from the Catholic Church in Ireland. The parish priest of Tipperary Town called the dead officers "martyrs to duty".
A meeting of the Executive of the Irish Volunteers took place shortly thereafter. On 31 January, An t-Óglach (the official publication of the Irish Volunteers) stated that the formation of Dáil Éireann "justifies Irish Volunteers in treating the armed forces of the enemy – whether soldiers or policemen – exactly as a National Army would treat the members of an invading army".
In February 1919 at a Brigade meeting in Nodstown Tipperary, Brigade officers drafted a proclamation (signed by Seamus Robinson as O/C) ordering all British military and police forces out of South Tipperary and, if they stayed they would be held to have "forfeited their lives". GHQ refused to sanction the proclamation and demanded it not be publicly displayed. Despite this it was still posted in several places in Tipperary.
In order to avoid capture, Breen, Treacy, Hogan and the other participants were forced to stay on the move for the following months, often hiding in the barns and attics of sympathisers.
A monument was erected at the site of the ambush, and each year, a ceremony of remembrance is held there.
The Irish War of Independence or Anglo-Irish War was a guerrilla war fought in Ireland from 1919 to 1921 between the Irish Republican Army and British forces: the British Army, along with the quasi-military Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and its paramilitary forces the Auxiliaries and Ulster Special Constabulary (USC). It was an escalation of the Irish revolutionary period into warfare.
Events from the year 1919 in Ireland.
The Squad, originally nicknamed the Twelve Apostles, was an Irish Republican Army (IRA) unit founded by Michael Collins to counter British intelligence efforts during the Irish War of Independence, mainly by means of assassination.
This is a timeline of the Irish War of Independence of 1919-21. The Irish War of Independence was a guerrilla conflict and most of the fighting was conducted on a small scale by the standards of conventional warfare.
Séumas Robinson was an Irish republican and politician.
Martin Savage was an Officer in the Dublin Brigade of the Irish Republican Army, from Ballisodare, County Sligo. On 19 December 1919 he was killed in a gun battle during an ambush at Ashtown, near the border of County Meath and County Dublin, during the early stages of the Irish War of Independence.
Seán Hogan was one of the leaders of the 3rd Tipperary Brigade of the Irish Republican Army during the War of Independence.
Sologhead beg or Solohead beg is a townland and civil parish in County Tipperary, Ireland, lying northwest of Tipperary town.
Edmond Foley, sometimes known as Edmund or Edward, was a member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) who was hanged in Mountjoy Prison on 7 June 1921. Together with nine other men executed by hanging during the War of Independence, he was one of The Forgotten Ten.
Denis "Dinny" Lacey was an Irish Republican Army officer during the Irish War of Independence and anti-Treaty IRA officer during the Irish Civil War. Lacey was born in 1889 in a village called Attybrick, near Annacarty, County Tipperary. His parents were Thomas Lacey and Ellen Hayes. He worked as a clerk and manager of a coal merchant in Tipperary Town, prior to the Irish War of Independence.
The Burning of Cork by British forces took place on the night of 11–12 December 1920, during the Irish War of Independence. It followed an Irish Republican Army (IRA) ambush of a British Auxiliary patrol in the city, which wounded twelve Auxiliaries, one fatally. In retaliation, the Auxiliaries, Black and Tans and British soldiers looted and burnt numerous buildings in Cork city centre. Many civilians reported being beaten, shot at, and robbed by British forces. Firefighters testified that British forces hindered their attempts to tackle the blazes through intimidation, cutting their hoses and shooting at them.
The Rineen ambush was an ambush carried out by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) on 22 September 1920, during the Irish War of Independence. It took place at Drummin Hill in the townland of Drummin, near the hamlet of Rineen, County Clare.
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Sean Finn was a commander of multiple units in the IRA's Irish War of Independence in the early 20th century. He led many attacks on the ruthless Black and Tans and the heavily-armed RIC patrols, with his brigade usually armed only with shotguns.
On 13 May 1919, a captured Irish Republican Army (IRA) member, Seán Hogan, was rescued from a train by his comrades while being guarded by four armed Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) officers. Two of the RIC officers were killed and several IRA volunteers were wounded. The rescue took place on Hogan's 18th birthday, while the Cork-bound train stopped at Knocklong station in County Limerick. It was undertaken by three of Hogan's comrades from the 3rd Tipperary Brigade of the IRA and five members of the Galtee Battalion of the East Limerick Brigade. Hogan was one of the most wanted men in Ireland at the time of his rescue, due to his role in the Soloheadbeg ambush and would almost certainly have been executed.