Seán Treacy

Last Updated On July 24, 2018
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Sean Treacy was born on February 14, 1895, at Soloheadbeg, County Tipperary. His father and mother were Denis and Bridget (nee Allis) Treacy. When Sean was three years old his father died. Sean and his mother moved to Lackenacreena, Hollyford, to stay with Jim Allis, his uncle. Sean was brought up in a truly Irish atmosphere and while only three years old he was taken to see John O’Leary, the old Fenian, unveil the Kickham Monument in Tipperary town. Sean attended Hollyford National School where he was greatly influenced by one of his teachers, Charlie Walsh, a native of Kerry, who was very nationalistic. As a child Sean was fearless and quite determined. Throughout his life he suffered from poor eyesight and wore glasses. When he was eleven his mother returned to Soloheadbeg because Jim Allis got married. Sean became a crack shot early in his life. As a youngster he had a small calibre rifle which he used to shoot at targets he set up around his home. He also practised firing a revolver.

Sean went on to attend the Christian Brothers school in Tipperary town. He was a keen student, especially good at Irish. As a youth Sean joined Fianna Éireann, a youth organisation, based on the Irish Republican Brotherhood’s (I.R.B.) principles. He also joined the Gaelic League and became President of the Tipperary town branch. In 1911, when he was sixteen, he joined the I.R.B. This was unusual as the normal age to join was eighteen.

Sean did not take part in the 1916 Rising because of the confusion concerning Eoin MacNeill’s cancellation of the Volunteer manoeuvres planned for Easter Sunday, which were supposed to he the actual Rising. After the failure of the Rising he devoted all his efforts to organising the Irish Volunteer Force (I.V.F.) in Tipperary.

Sean became the leader of the 4th Battalion, Third Tipperary Brigade (Tipperary town) in 1914. By 1917, there were seven companies in the 4th Battalion area. By the Summer of 1917, another three companies were formed which brought the total number to ten. Each company was fifty to sixty strong.

In August 1917, Sean was arrested for his involvement in the Volunteer movement. He was sentenced to six months in Cork Jail. In late August, early September, Sean was transferred to Mountjoy Jail, Dublin. In jail Sean studied and continued to organist the Volunteers. When Sean was in jail he attended lectures on the manufacture of explosives and the Irish language. The Irish lectures were conducted by Seamus O’Neill, a fellow prisoner, who was a lecturer at Rockwell College, Co. Tipperary. Seamus O’Neill later became Commandant of the Cashel Battalion, Third Tipperary Brigade. During this time Sean and other Volunteer prisoners went on hunger strike to get proper political prisoner status. This was eventually conceded by the British. Sean was then moved to Dundalk Jail in November 1917. Here the agreement granting political prisoner status was broken by the British. Sean was released on November 16, 1917. After his release he continued to organise the Volunteers.

Sean was rearrested on February 28, 1918. At this time he was busy organising the Volunteers. He was again sent to Dundalk Jail where he and other Volunteer prisoners immediately went on hunger strike to get the terms won in Mountjoy Jail enforced. After ten days the British backed down and gave the Volunteer prisoners political status again. Here again Sean attended military and Irish language classes and was released in June 1918. While Sean was in prison the organisation of the Volunteers was carried on by men such as Dan Breen.

Sean’s body was returned to Tipperary for burial. Requiem mass was held in the church of his native parish, Solohead. The funeral then proceeded to Kilfeacle, where Sean is buried, through Limerick Junction and Tipperary town. Sean’s own brigade, the Third Tipperary, was out in full strength and a guard of honour was made up from battalion officers. After last prayers, Con Moloney (Brigade Adjutant, Third Tipperary Brigade), recited the following oration over the grave: “Sean Treacy is dead. His death is a great blow to us and to Ireland. But his loss must not unnerve us. Rather it must strengthen our resolve to continue on the path he opened for us; to strive for the ideals for which he gave his life; if necessary, to die fighting as Sean did.” (Ryan, 1945) A firing party under Commandant Jerome Davin (Commandant, lst Battalion, Third Tipperary Brigade), fired a volley over the grave.

And so died one of the bravest, most daring patriots that Ireland has ever produced. Sean Treacy died shortly after his twenty fifth birthday. When he died he was Vice-Brigadier of the Third Tipperary Brigade. In South Tipperary, Sean was one of the main motivating forces behind the I.V.F., the Gaelic League and the I.R.B. His organisational skills and unselfish devotion to the cause of Ireland’s freedom were important, and necessary, for the commencement and continuation of the fight for freedom. Sean was present at the Soloheadbeg Ambush at the very beginning of the quest for Ireland’s independence but fate was to intervene and he died before the fruits of his sacrifices were realised. There is no way of knowing what side he would have taken in the Civil War. However, he would have been a major influence on events and would probably have been on the Anti-Treaty side, as it is very unlikely he would have accepted the terms of the Treaty.