Time, Gender and the Politics of National Liberation, 1916–1923

  • Aidan Beatty
Part of the Genders and Sexualities in History book series (GSX)


On 21 January 1919, the same day that Sinn Féin established an independent Irish parliament, Dáil Éireann, a small group of local nationalists acting on their own initiative, attacked and killed two Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) constables escorting workmen and dynamite at a quarry in Soloheadbeg in South Tipperary. The ambush at Soloheadbeg has often been seen as the starting point of the Irish War of Independence.2 In his memoirs of his experiences during this war, Dan Breen offered a lively account of his role as one of the leaders at Soloheadbeg. As well as weaving a romanticised account of an Irish rebel and his adventures on the run from British forces, Breen makes another, slightly more subtle point. Discussing the ambush, Breen is keen to point out that here at Soloheadbeg, ‘Brian Boru and his brother Mahon fought their first great battle with the Danes in 968, when Brian with his gallant army of Tipperary men and Clare men routed the invaders’.3 Dan Breen and his comrades are clearly only the latest in a long line of ‘gallant’ Irish men fighting unwelcome invaders in this part of the country. Fleeing from Soloheadbeg, Breen and his comrades hid in the Galtee Mountains that ‘have ever been the refuge of the Tipperary “felon”’.4 Indeed, when the violence of the ambush was condemned by mainstream opinion ‘our only consoling thought was that the men of [17]98, the Fenians of [18]67 and the men of 1916 were condemned in their day.’5 On a later raid, to rescue a captured comrade, Seán Hogan, Breen talked of how they passed ‘on the very same road by which Patrick Sarsfield rode on that moonlit night two hundred years before when his sabre brought terror to Dutch William’s troops.’ Belabouring his point, Breen even suggested that Hogan was descended from Galloping Hogan, ‘another Tipperary Outlaw.’ Breen claimed it was Seán Treacy, his closest friend in the raiding party, who ‘loved his Irish history’, that reminded them of this glorious episode.6


Jewish Identity Irish Nation Catholic Ideal Jewish Masculinity Irish Republic 
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© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aidan Beatty
    • 1
  1. 1.Azrieli Institute of Israel Studies & School of Canadian Irish StudiesConcordia UniversityMontrealCanada

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