Dan Breen: Ambush at Soloheadbeg – Launching Irish War of Independence

Dan Breen joins the Irish Republican Brotherhood in 1912 and the Irish Volunteers in 1914. On 21 January 1919, the day the First Dáil meets in Dublin, he takes part in an ambush at Soloheadbeg.

The ambush party attacks a group of Royal Irish Constabulary who are escorting explosives to a quarry and two policemen are killed. The ambush is considered to be the first action taken in the Irish War of Independence.

Dan Breen later recalls: “…we took the action deliberately, having thought over the matter and talked it over between us… 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…

Dan Breen has now a £10,000 price on his head. Forced to flee Tipperary, he joins Michael Collins’ hit squad in Dublin but then opposes the Treaty. Later he joins De Valera’s Fianna Fail and is the first anti-Treaty activist to enter Dail Eireann and take the oath of allegiance he had fought to abolish.

See: Dan Breen, My Fight For Irish Freedom, Talbot Press (1924) – republished a number of times.




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