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Table of contents

With an Introd. My fight for Irish freedom. Audience Level. Related Identities. Associated Subjects. Braoin, Donnall O. B7, The forces of the colonial Occupation were in a frenzy searching for both Treacy and Breen around the city and the Dublin IRA organised protection for them both. Collins planned to shoot a number of them and assembled a group for the operation and notified the meeting place. However, the British were closing in on Talbot Street with the intention of capturing Treacy, it seems.

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He drew his Parabellum firearm and shot two agents but the machine-gunner caught Treacy in a burst as he was trying to mount his bicycle as people dived for cover and several were injured. A policeman on point duty was shot in the arm, which had to be amputated. Another boy, year old apprentice photographer John J. It seems the Chief of the CIS himself, Ormand Winter, had attended the operation or had followed it up and was shocked at the outcome — an agent dead and another wounded and Treacy dead, along with two innocent bystanders, one only a boy.

Christian claimed to have been off duty and just passing at the time but this was more than likely said to preserve his cover and also to increase the amount of compensation.

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He would not be so lucky another time which was fast approaching. I once or twice heard some speculation that Treacy had been betrayed from within the IRA and even that Collins wanted him killed but these kinds of rumours often arise and no evidence has ever been provided to substantiate the speculation.

It is indeed curious that Treacy had miraculously escaped on the 13 th and had been recruited for a dangerous operation to take place two days later, then to be shot at the scene of a cancelled meeting but such things happen. The simplest explanation and the one that fits the best is that Treacy had been marked and followed and that after their debacle at Fernside, the colonial military authorities in Dublin had decided to take him prisoner there in Talbot Street if they could and, if not, kill him.

Treacy was buried in his native county at Kilfeakle, a funeral attended by thousands of mourners and a heavy concentration of RIC, holding rifles with fixed bayonets. Breen remarked that though not intended in that way, it was an appropriate mark of respect for the fallen guerrilla fighter. The police and army raids in Drumcondra and in Talbot Street, the first from which two tough and experienced IRA men had been lucky to escape and the second which had resulted in the death of one of them and nearly netted a few others, must have rung very loud alarm bells for IRA leaders and ordinary Volunteers.

Apparently it convinced Collins that some very thorough offensive action was needed to remove or reduce the threat. Collins had originally drawn up a list of 50 but Cathal Brugha, acting as Minister of Defence, had reduced the list on the basis that there was insufficient evidence against fifteen of them. Some agents were, luckily for them, not in when the IRA came calling and some operations were bungled.

A passing Auxilliary patrol they were brought into Ireland in July got involved in one location and, in the subsequent fight, two of them were killed and one IRA man wounded and captured. But by midday, the British Army and colonial administration were counting their fatal losses, a total of:. Just as the operations organised by British Intelligence in the previous month had raised the alarm for the IRA, the response of the latter did the same in turn for the British military and political administration in Ireland.

Henceforth, intelligence personnel would be accommodated in Dublin Castle or in barracks. That afternoon, a Gaelic football game was scheduled to take place in Croke Park, the national stadium of the Gaelic Athletic Association, between Tipperary and Dublin teams. The IRA had considered advising the GAA to cancel the match but there were fears that — apart from alerting British Intelligence that something was planned — it might implicate the GAA in the planned operation that morning.


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In any case, the match went ahead with an estimated attendance of 5,, unaware that a convoy of British Army troops was driving along Clonliffe Road from the Drumcondra Road end, while a convoy of DMP and Auxiliaries approached the Park from the south or Canal end. Despite their claims later there is no evidence they received any return fire but nevertheless their own commander admitted they kept shooting for about a minute-and-a-half. They fired at spectators and players, some firing from the pitch while others fired from the Canal Bridge at those who tried to escape by climbing over the wall at the Canal end.

The soldiers on Clonliffe Road fired machine gun bullets over the heads of the fleeing crowd in an unsuccessful effort to turn them back. According to the commander of the operation, Major Mills, the police had fired rifle rounds revolver rounds were not counted and the Army had fired 50 rounds in the street. The casualties were 9 people shot dead, five dying of wounds and two trampled to death in the panic.


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  6. Two of the dead were boys aged 10 and Michael Hogan, a player was dead and another player, Egan, wounded but survived. Dozens more were wounded by bullets or injured in the panic.

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    The Castle issued a cover story in a statement that IRA men from outside Dublin had used the football game as a cover for getting into the city and, after the assassinations they had carried out, had gone to the game. When the police arrived to search fans for weapons, according to the statement, these men had fired on the police, who had been obliged to return fire.

    The most credulous would have found that story difficult to believe since not a single policeman had even been injured and even the loyalist Irish Times poured scorn on their story. One of the planners of the earlier IRA operation was already in custody before the events of that day. They were being interrogated in Dublin Castle. Clune was no IRA man but an language enthusiast who had come up to Dublin that day with his employer, Edward McLysaght, on business for the Raheen cooperative.

    Leading the interrogation team was Ormond Winters. Their captors said that, because there was no room in the cells, they had been placed in a guardroom and were killed while grabbing arms to shoot their captors and to make a getaway. In none of the photos are the faces of any of the three prisoners clearly shown. In any case, McKee and Clancy died without giving their captors any of the long list of names they carried in their heads, while Clune of course had none to give. The Army doctor who examined the bodies prior to their release said that Clancy had been hit with up to five bullets, which caused eight wounds, while Dick McKee had three wounds caused by two bullets.

    Unfortunately for the Castle, Conor Clune was a nephew of Patrick Clune, Archbishop of Perth, Australia which caused the authorities some embarrassment.

    There was a sequel to the deaths of the three, although it did not take place until the following year. A plaque was erected in Talbot Street, Dublin, by the voluntary non-party organisation, the National Graves Association, on the front facade of No. T he anniversary of his death is marked each year at a commemoration ceremony in Kilfeacle.

    The most recent such ceremony was held at midday on Sunday, 7 September and attracted a large attendance, most of whom were en route to Croke Park. It is worthy of note that every single one of those commemorations and memorial plaques is organised by voluntary bodies rather than by the State. Strangely neither Treacy nor Breen is mentioned in The Station of Knockalong , about the May 13 th rescue of Sean Hogan from his captors on a train, after a fierce hand-to-hand struggle in which both Treacy and Breen were seriously wounded. The Galtee Mountain Boy is said to be also about Treacy but some of the lyrics make this unlikely and a contributor to Mudcat a folk song website claimed that song is about Paddy Davern, who was sentenced to die by both the British and the Irish Free State but escaped them both.

    Strangely too, no song comes to light about the Drumcondra shoot-out.

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    However, my searches have failed to turn up the source of those wonderful lines. If the song existed and was about Treacy, it could have referred to his death in Talbot Street but even more likely to the battle at Fernside. Dan Breen is mentioned in a number of songs but none of which I am aware directly about him. He was smuggled out of Dublin while still recovering from his injuries and very weak, returning to active service later.

    Breen, who was wounded, remembered how the battalion was "vehemently denounced as a cold-blooded assassins" and roundly condemned by the Catholic Church. After the fight, Treacy, Seamus Robinson and Breen met Collins in Dublin, where they were told to make themselves scarce. They agreed they would "fight it out, of course". He and Sean Treacy shot their way out through a British military cordon in the northern suburb of Drumcondra Fernside. They escaped, only for Treacy to be killed the next day. Breen was shot at least four times, twice in the lung. The British reaction was to make Tipperary a 'Special Military Area', with curfews and travel permits.

    Volunteer GHQ authorised entrerprising attacks on barracks. Richard Mulcahy noted that British policy had "pushed rather turbulent spirits such as Breen and Treacy into the Dublin area". The inculcation of the principles of guerrilla warfare was to become an essential part of all training. They joined Michael Collins' Squad of assassins, later known as the Dublin Guard, when Tipperary became "too hot for them".

    The IRA hid behind hedges and a dungheap as the convoy of vehicles came past.