Death of the Third Brigade
Weakened resistance in other areas allowed the opposing High Command to concentrate the bulk of its forces on South Tipperary. Early in 1923 there were sweeping rounds-up, and the people generally began to weary of conditions. The 3rd Tipperary Brigade suffered heavy casualties, but its greatest loss at the time was the death of its commander, Dinny Lacey.
On February 18th, 1923, he, with his Vice-Brigadier (Paddy McDonagh) and another, were at a farmhouse in Ballydavid. Hearing shots in the direction of Ashgrove, nearby, and realising that some of the Col lads there were being attacked, Lacey and his companions decided to go to their assistance. As they left the house they were fired on from behind the farmyard wall. Paddy MacDonagh was severely wounded, but all three gained the cover of a ditch, only to find themselves surrounded on every side. Lacey mounted the ditch and was stooping to help his wounded comrade when fire was opened and he received a fatal wound in the temple. He died almost immediately. McDonagh succumbed to his wounds later. So passed Dinny Lacey – a great fighter and leader of men. Possessed of magnificent courage; daring to the point of rashness, outspoken and determined, yet deeply religious – he was admired by his men and feared by his enemies. The news of his death seemed to have a disintegrating effect on the 3rd Tipperary A.S.U’s generally. Shortly before the Cease Fire order (27th April, 1923) only skeleton staffs existed in dug-outs in the different districts. Isolated groups continued the defensive struggle, but eventually the A.S.U’s were disbanded.
It is of interest to note that, during the big Hunger Strike October-November, 1923 – it lasted for thirty-five days, I think – out of the sixty-six men in Newbridge Barracks who took part, twenty-eight were members of the 3rd Tipperary Brigade.
An analysis of the Brigade casualty list shows that four Brigade officers, eleven Battalion officers and sixty-seven Company officers and men gave their lives in the Fight for Irish Freedom. Go ndéanaidh Dia trócaire ar a anamnaibh!
SIGNED: Seán Fitzpatrick. BMH Witness Statement no. 1259.
DATE: 23rd September 1955.
WITNESS: Seumas Robinson.