Centenary of shooting of Seán Treacy in Kilmainham Gaol
Yesterday (Wednesday) marked the centenary of one of the most dramatic events in the Irish War of Independence: the killing of Seán Treacy in a shoot-out on Talbot Street in Dublin’s city centre on 14th October 1920. To mark this anniversary Kilmainham Gaol has created a new museum display which features objects intimately connected with Treacy and this incident. They will be displayed for the first time alongside actual footage of the immediate aftermath of the shooting.
Seán Treacy helped plan and carry out the first military action of the War of Independence when two members of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) were ambushed and killed at Solohead Beg, Co Tipperary on 21 January 1919. He went on to become one of the most well-known members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and was involved in many attacks on British forces in Tipperary and Dublin. These included a daring rescue of one of his comrades, Seán Hogan, from police custody and an attempt to assassinate the Lord Lieutenant, Viscount French.
Treacy’s involvement in so many high-profile attacks on British forces made him a wanted man. In October 1920 he hid out in various safe-houses around Dublin, often narrowly escaping capture or death. Treacy was killed in a shoot-out on Talbot Street on 14th October following a raid by a British Army patrol on a shop owned by another prominent IRA member, Peadar Clancy.
The display includes braces and one of the shoes worn by Treacy on the day he was shot. This shoe has a particular poignancy as it is said that the reason Treacy was unable to successfully flee the scene was because he grabbed a bicycle which was too big for him and his feet could not reach the pedals. The shoe and braces were kept as mementos by Treacy’s boyhood friend and comrade, Dan Breen. Also featured is a lock of Treacy’s hair which Breen cut from his head after his death.
These items will be displayed with contemporary newsreel footage filmed by British Pathé which showed the immediate aftermath of the Talbot Street shooting. In addition to Seán Treacy, a British military intelligence officer, Lieutenant Ivon Henry Price, and two civilians, Joseph Corringham and Patrick Carroll, were also killed. This footage has recently been repatriated by the Irish Film Archive (IFI) from the British Film Institute and British Pathé archives with HD digital copies being created from the original delicate nitrate prints. The film, “Terror in Ireland”, forms part of their Irish Independence Film Collection and can be viewed online free worldwide via the IFI Player: https://ifiplayer.ie/independencefilms/
Unfortunately, Kilmainham Gaol is closed to the public at present due to the Level 3 Covid-19 restrictions. However the Museum is delighted to be partnering with RTÉ who will feature the Sean Treacy artefacts on their War of Independence website: https://www.rte.ie/history/soloheadbeg/.
Collections Curator, Brian Crowley, said: “While we had been hoping against hope that we would be open for the anniversary of Treacy’s death, we still felt it was really important that we have these remarkable items out on display on the day. We look forward to welcoming the public back to the Museum when things improve, and in the meantime we are delighted that people will be able to view them online and via our social media channels.”