17 January 2006
Brave men of Soloheadbeg ambush to be remembered
Letters to the editor
The 87th anniversary of the Soloheadbeg ambush will be commemorated at the ambush site on Sunday, January 29. Mr Con O’Callaghan, chairperson of the Kilmichael Crossbarry Commemoration Committee, will deliver the oration.
Despite it being held in the depth of winter, this commemoration, which marks the start of the War of Independence and the meeting of the first Dáil Éireann, annually attracts a very big attendance. The parade will leave Coffeys Forge on the Tipp town to Cappawhite Road headed by the Seán Treacy Pipe Band at 2.30pm and will proceed to the ambush site. The organisers of this commemoration do so independent of any political organisations or associations and have done so from its formation.
Their aims are to remember the brave men who challenged British Empire rule in Ireland on a quiet Tipperary rural by-road on a cold January day in 1919, within a few miles of one of the largest British military bases in provincial Ireland.
The names of Dan Breen, Tadgh Crowe, Seán Hogan, Paddy McCormack, Paddy O’Dwyer, Séamas Robinson, Michael Ryan and Seán Treacy – the men who fired the first shots that inflicted fatal casualties on the British armed forces after Easter Week 1916 – began the War of Independence. Seán Ó Meara was in constant touch with the ambushers and Limerick Junction railway station, where dispatches were arriving, probably from the IRB in Dublin.
Those who made themselves available in the ambush over the course of the week, while awaiting the police escort, included Maurice Crowe, Arty Barlow, Con Power, Dinny Lacy, whose memories we equally honour. As a line from an old Fenian ballad states: “We may have great men but we will never have better” than the men who assembled at Soloheadbeg to challenge British rule.
Constable McDonald and Constable O’Connell who lost their lives in the ambush are also remembered in the prayers and their relatives attend the ceremonies annually and are an appreciated part of what is now a major event, marking the memorable beginning of unstoppable change in Irish history, at the place where it started —Soloheadbeg.
John J Hassett,
Thurles, Co Tipperary