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Arrests Made In Thurles District

Only known image of Brady’s Mill, once situated in Archerstown, near Thurles. (Courtesy Michael Bannon.)

The more elderly members of our Thurles community still refer to Brady’s Mill as a general landmark, but of course, alas, Brady’s Mill today has long vanished from our Thurles district landscape. The limestone from its original walls I understand was moved to repair walls at Farney Castle.

Brady’s Mill once stood on the bank of the stream known as the Breagagh river,101 metres above sea level at Archerstown, Thurles. (Latitude: 52° 41′ 10″ (52.6861°) north, Longitude: 7° 45′ 53″ (7.7647°) west)

According to the Bureau of Military History (1913-21), it was sometime between mid-summer and mid autumn of 1918, that Brady’s Mill entered the spotlight in our town’s rich history. Around that time a meeting was convened to organise three formed Irish Republican Army (IRA) Battalions into a Brigade, which would be known as the 2nd (or Mid-Tipperary) Brigade of the IRA, during the Irish War of Independence.

This meeting consisted of officers of the 1st (Thurles), 2nd (Templemore) and 3rd (Upperchurch) Battalions and was presided over by Senator Michael Staines[1] (1st May 1885 – 26th October 1955), who travelled from Dublin for the occasion. At that meeting James Leahy, Thurles, was elected Brigade Commandant;  Edmond McGrath of Loughmore, was elected, Vice-Commandant; Michael Kennedy of Thurles, as Adjutant; and lastly John McCormack of Thurles, as Quartermaster.

[1] Michael Staines served as Quartermaster General in the GPO during the 1916 Easter Rising. Following ‘The Rising’ he was interned with fellow GPO insurgents at Frongoch internment camp, Merionethshire, in Wales; held under the Defence of the Realm Act 1914, which stated that he was “suspected of having honoured, promoted or assisted an armed insurrection against His Majesty.”  Staines was later elected Commandant at Frongoch, after the former Commandant Jeremiah Joseph (J.J. ‘Ginger’) O’Connell was sent to Reading Gaol, Berkshire, England, on June 30th of that year.

Staines is possibly remembered best as the first commissioner of An Garda Síochána, of which he once stated, “The Garda Síochána will succeed not by force of arms or numbers, but on their moral authority as servants of the people.”

J.J. (Ginger) O’Connell, whom Staines replaced as Commandant at Frongoch, would be kidnapped in Dublin on June 27th 1922, by anti-treaty IRA forces from the Four Courts garrison. Same was in reaction to the arrest of Leo Henderson, following his raid on the car dealership of Harry Ferguson in Baggot St, Dublin, and became one of the reasons that led to the decision by Michael Collin to attack the Four Courts, the first act in the Irish civil war.

When next we hear of Brady’s Mill, same is contained in an article printed in the ‘Clonmel Chronicle’ on January 29th, 1921. (Place of publication of the ‘Clonmel Chronicle’ was Clonmel, in Co. Tipperary, from 1848 – 1935. The paper was published twice weekly at a cost of fourpence and published by S. Collins, Clonmel.)

This Report Reads:-

“On Thursday (27th January 1921), a large party (about eighty) of military, in two companies, followed by ten or twelve police all armed and marching in open formation, were seen turning down into Bank Street, (today known as Slievenamon Road, Thurles).

In the centre of the force attracting a good deal of attention, by a jennet (A small Spanish horse regarded as useful for war.) or pony; the owner walking at the animal’s head, and in the car were two or three machine guns. The appearance of such a formidable force attracted a good deal of attention, and there was a lot of speculation as to the reason for their appearance.

The forces marched along the Turtalla Road, and then to Archerstown, a townsland a couple of miles out from the town. Here they spread themselves out and made a search of the district.

At Brady’s Mill the police state they found some ammunition buried in the garden attached to the Mill and Mrs Brady’s son (Daniel) was arrested and and brought into the R.I.C. barracks. The forces returned in batches, and as the last party of police arrived at the River Bridge on their way back to Barracks they came upon Jeremiah Ryan of Liskeeveen, who is said to have been “on the run” for some time and James K. O’Dwyer, late of Molloy, Thurles. The men ran, on the approach of the police, who pursued them into a vacant house nearby and captured them. They also were lodged in the RIC barracks.

It is stated that the reason for the visit to Archerstown was that word was conveyed to the police that an ambush was being prepared near the place, but nothing definite can be ascertained as to this, and it is also stated that there was some skirmishing about the place. One of the police returning was seen to be bandaged, and another carried a broken rifle in addition to his own.

The whole affair has caused a great deal of excitement in town.”

Brady’s Mill, yet another piece of valuable history that has been allowed to vanish from the Thurles area.

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