My Fight For Irish Freedom: Dan Breens Autobiography
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No, cancel Yes, report it Thanks! You've successfully reported this review. We appreciate your feedback. August 1, Imprint: You can read this item using any of the following Kobo apps and devices: The hour had come. I cast a hurried glance down the road. The driver and the County Council employee who was to take delivery of the explosives walked beside the horse. Two uniformed policemen armed with rifles were following at a short distance behind the cart.
One moment before, my pulse was beating rapidly from excitement, but when I saw the cavalcade at close quarters, my nervousness disappeared. I felt I could take on single-handed a squadron of those fellows. What were they but a pack of deserters, spies and hirelings? Nearer still they came conversing in low tones. They were almost under the shadow of our revolvers. In answer to our challenge they raised their rifles, and with military precision held them at the ready.
They were Irishmen, too, and would die rather than surrender. We renewed the demand for surrender. We would have preferred to avoid bloodshed; but they were inflexible. Further appeal was useless. It was a matter of our lives or theirs. The two policemen fell, mortally wounded. James Godfrey, the driver of the cart, and Patrick Flynn, the County Council employee, looked on in stupefaction. If we had disarmed the police without firing a shot the matter would not have been so serious. The shots had alarmed the countryside. In a moment men and women would appear at every doorway.
Within an hour, hundreds of police and military would be scouring the countryside for us.
My Fight for Irish Freedom: Dan Breen's Autobiography
From that moment we were outlaws with a price on our heads. We seized the rifles and equipment of the police, mounted the cart and drove away. The cart contained more than a hundredweight of gelignite. We had overlooked the seizure of the electric detonators. One week later we learned that Flynn, the County Council employee, had secreted thirty of them in his pocket.
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Never was a horse called upon to give such gallant service in a dash for life and liberty. Sean Hogan held the reins; Sean Treacy and I sat behind. The rest of the party had been ordered to make their escape in different directions. On we sped, urging our poor horse to greater speed, while school-children and farmworkers watched us in amazement as we went by.
We were heading for Donaskeigh. For a great part of our journey not a word was spoken.
Treacy was the first to break the silence. In the same cool tones that he might have used if we were sitting round a fire discussing a game of cards he. The book says that they are dangerous if frozen, or if they get jolted? The reminder did not add to our peace of mind; if ever explosives got a jolting, these did.
The road was rough and uneven; heaps of loose stones were scattered along the way; the cart was of the ordinary farmyard type, without springs. But we had to speed on our way until we reached the spot where we had decided to hide the booty. We quickly deposited the gelignite with the exception of two sticks which I kept for a decoy. I threw them on the roadside when we had covered a good distance. The poor horse was so jaded from the gallop that he could proceed no further. He was found a few hours later at Aileen Bridge, four miles distant from Tipperary town. The discovery set the Crown forces in motion.
In the ensuing months police and soldiers combed the r countryside and actually walked several times over the dugout in which the gelignite lay concealed. The loose sticks had led them on a false scent; they kept themselves warm by digging trenches all over the area. But their search was in vain. And now our troubles began. We had to give a wide berth to Tipperary and its precincts. We were tired with the excitement of the day and the suspense of the previous days but we could not think of rest for a long while yet.
The weather was intensely cold; to make things worse, it started to snow. There was now the further danger that, if the snow lodged, we might easily be traced. Previously, we had been going north; we headed south-east towards the Galtee mountains, for to them we looked for shelter.
We had travelled four miles by the time that we arrived at Mrs. There we had the first square meal since early morning when my mother had given us breakfast; right heartily we enjoyed the bacon and eggs provided by our kind hostess. In that house our famous countryman, Father Theobald Mathew, had been born. We could not afford to linger; we had yet to put many more miles between us and Soloheadbeg.
We resumed our journey towards the mountains. The wind was piercingly cold. The only other living things which we saw out in the open were two mountain goats spancelled together near the cross-roads. Several times we lost our way. We dared not call to a strange wayside farm-house, for at that time the people had not learned the virtue of silence. At one point Sean Treacy fell into a ravine about twenty feet deep.
Sean Hogan and I feared that he had been killed. When we got him out, we found that he was little the worse for his fall; he assured us that he would fire another shot before handing in his gun. All three of us continued our journey towards the summit. In the height of summer you will find it chilly enough on Galteemore.
You can imagine how we felt that evening in midwinter. It had taken us three hours to make the ascent, but after all our exertions we wandered back to the two goats, back to our startingpoint. We abandoned all hope of crossing the mountain. We crossed to the railway line and decided to face for Cahir. A fortunate decision, indeed. We had not gone many miles along the line when we saw the lights of the military lorries that were scouring the roads in search of us. Had we been down on the road, we could not have avoided them. Travelling on railroad-tracks is tiresome even at ordinary times.
For men in our condition it was a cruel ordeal but we had to keep going. In the thick darkness a figure loomed up.
My Fight For Irish Freedom: Dan Breen's Autobiography
I was walking in front. I advanced with gun levelled and walked into a railway signpost which displayed the warning, Trespassers will be prosecuted. Unhappy though our plight was, the boys laughed at my discomfiture and I had to join in the laughter. A little farther on Sean Hogan complained that his boot was loose and asked us to stop for a moment. Sean Treacy tied the lace, but he did not travel much farther until he again complained that it was loose.
He stooped to examine it and found that the whole boot had been practically worn away by the rocks. Only a bit of a sole and the laced part of the upper remained. Sean Treacy tried to keep our spirits from drooping. Now and again we became so exhausted that we used to stand and rest our heads against the ditch by the railway side to doze for five minutes.
At last we reached Cahir. We were as near to absolute collapse as men could be. We were becoming desperate. For the first time we had to assume that outward coolness and take the risk which later became part of our daily routine. We walked right through the town of Cahir, a garrison-town situated on the main road from Limerick to Clonmel and Waterford, and only fifteen miles from Soloheadbeg. We had to take the risk. Our blood was almost congealed with cold; we were ravenously hungry, and there was little life left in us.
That friend was Mrs. Tobin of Tincurry House, near Cahir. I shall never forget her kindness to us on that night. For the first time in a week we went to bed. Excitement, cold and exhaustion made sleep impossible.
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For four hours we lay limp; at least we got rest for our weary limbs. We rose from our bed, eager to hear news. Since we had left Soloheadbeg we had not spoken to anyone and had not seen a newspaper. Most of the details furnished were absolutely false. We learned furthermore that two young men had been arrested on suspicion; neither of them had anything to do with the affair.