The Evolution of the Third Tipperary Brigade IRA
On 28 February 1918 Seán Treacy was arrested and eventually was lodged as his majesty’s guest in Dundalk jail. About mid-march he was visited there by Dan Breen and Maurice Crowe. He advised them to meet Michael Collins on their way home. At the subsequent meeting Collins urged them to organise the Volunteers and establish a proper formal command structure once they got home.
Now it’s generally accepted that the Third Brigade was formally organised in Moloney’s chemist shop in Church Street, Tipperary Town in October 1918. But it seems that that meeting put the final touches on work that had been ongoing for more than six months previously.
According to Colm Ó Labhra (An tAth. Colmcille, OCSO) when the pair reached home they immediately put Collins’s suggestion into effect. On the first Sunday in April, 07 April 1918, the leading Volunteers in the three Battalions which had already been fairly well organised met together in Tipperary – it’s not recorded where. The three Battalions in question were Clanwilliam (Tipperary), Kilnamanagh (Dundrum) and Cashel. Dan Breen was elected Brigadier, Maurice Crowe as Adjutant, and Dinny Lacey as Quarter Master. All understood that they were only temporary appointments. Maurice Crowe notified GHQ in Dublin of the developments.
Later in April GHQ sent Seán McLoughlin to organise South Tipperary and Limerick. By then a fourth Battalion had been added – the “Border Battalion”. It included the Emly and Galbally Companys, both of which McLoughlin detached from Tipp and included in the East Limerick Brigade, in spite of strong objections by Dan Breen and Maurice Crowe to his decision. The remainder of the Border Battalion was incorporated into the Tipperary one. As a result it became the largest unit in the Brigade. It was described as “The backbone of the Brigade”. The Clonmel Battalion was added to the Third Brigade at that time. In May McLoughlin convened another meeting of the Brigade. The acting officers were re-elected and a Brigade Engineer, Matt Barlow, was added to the three existing officers.
At the historic October meeting two more Battalions, Cahir and Drangan, were added. At that stage the Battalions were numbered as follows: 1st; Clanwilliam, 2nd; Kilnamanagh, 3rd; Cashel, 4th; Clonmel, 5th; Cahir, and 6th; Drangan. Shortly afterwards a seventh Battalion was formed in Carrick-on-Suir and added to the Brigade.
Finally in 1920 the Rosegreen Battalion, which then became the HQ one, was established. Then the Battalion numbers were reorganised into the order with which we are familiar: 1st Rosegreen, 2nd Cashel, 3rd Dundrum, 4th Tipperary, 5th Clonmel, 6th Cahir, 7th Drangan, and 8th Carrick-on-Suir. A complete and detailed list of all Brigade officers for the period October 1918 to May 1923 can be found in the MSPC lists which were composed by former members in the mid-1930s. Those lists also contain the officers and staffs at Battalion and Company level, along with the names of every Volunteer who ever served in the Brigade at any level or in any capacity.
Lastly, if there are errors or omissions in the above narrative please let me know so that I can correct them and recirculate the true version.
Le gach deaghuí,
Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh.