Hundreds gather to commemorate centenary of ambush that sparked War of Independence
HUNDREDS of people gathered in Co Tipperary yesterday to commemorate the centenary of the ambush that sparked the War of Independence.
Large crowds descended on Solohead village for the special memorial service and also at the Soloheadbeg ambush site, where Irish minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan laid a wreath to mark the events of January 21, 1919.
Soloheadbeg is widely recognised as the first action of the War of Independence with the first shots of the war fired by Dan Breen, Sean Treacy, Seamus Robinson, Sean Hogan and other members of an eight-strong IRA Third Tipperary Brigade unit.
Relatives of the 12 individuals involved that day were present at the ceremony yesterday.
The event, which was organised by the Solohead Parish Centenary Commemoration Committee in association with the Third Tipperary Brigade Old IRA Commemoration Committee, began with a Mass of Remembrance in Solohead Church, celebrated by the Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, Kieran O'Reilly.
Minister Madigan then laid a wreath on behalf of the Irish government at the site of the Soloheadbeg ambush memorial, in remembrance of all who suffered and who lost their lives during the struggle.
"It is very fitting that the significance of what happened in Soloheadbeg a century ago is remembered with a respectful, community-led commemoration, supported by Tipperary County Council and the State," she said.
There were recitals from the Charles Kickham Brass Band and the Sean Treacy Pipe Band.
Dr Martin Mansergh was among the guests and had been part of the organising committee.
Following the laying of wreaths, he unveiled a heritage information board at the memorial providing information on the ambush and directions to ambush site in Soloheadbeg.
Éamon Ó Cuív TD, a former government minister and grandson of the former President of Ireland Éamon de Valera, also spoke at the service.
Later yesterday, the Third Tipperary Brigade Old IRA Commemoration Committee hosted a separate event at the ambush site.