Kilmainham Gaol text Collection title

Dan Breen

Biography

Born on a small farm in Co. Tipperary, Dan Breen was sworn in to the IRB at an early age and later became a member of the Irish Volunteers. He recalled being “bitterly disappointed” at the failure of the Easter Rising and, along with fellow Volunteers Sean Treacy and Ned O’Dwyer, resolved that “if ever there should be another fight for freedom, we would be in it wherever it was.” On 21st January, 1919, under no apparent orders from the IRA leadership, Breen and Treacy led and ambush on two RIC men at Soloheadbeg, Co. Tipperary, killing both. It was an action which effectively commenced the War of Independence. Now a wanted fugitive, he split his time between his South Tipperary Brigade and Dublin, briefly working in Michael Collins’ Squad. Breen was less prominent during the Civil War, and was captured and imprisoned towards the end of the conflict. He was elected to the Dáil in 1923, joining Fianna Fáil in 1927. Two years later he relocated to America, running a speakeasy in New York and trading successfully upon his celebrity status amongst Irish-Americans. He returned to Ireland upon the death of his mother in 1932, and resumed his career as a Fianna Fáil TD, retiring in 1965.

 

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