10 Aug 2022

Tipperary casualties of Civil War ambush at Tonduff are remembered at unveiling

Tipperary casualties of Civil War ambush at Tonduff are remembered at unveiling

Cmdt Joe Tynan speaking at the unveiling watched by John Flannery, Nenagh, a memeber of the Tipperary in the Decade of Revolution Committee

Over 200 people gathered at Raheen in Laois last week to remember those who died in in the afermath of a massive landmine explosion on the Portlaoise to Abbeyleix Road in July 1922.

The Tonduff Ambush was the largest military engagement in Laois during the Civil War.

On the afternoon of July 28, 1922, Anti-Treaty forces led by Cmdr Michael Sheehy, Brig Cmdr Tom Brady and Adj Lar Brady, waited in ambush on the main N77 road. Their target was a detachment of National Army soldiers believed to be transporting wages from Kilkenny to Portlaoise.

A landmine they laid on the road was spotted by a passerby, resulting in an armoured car and two lorries of National Army troops being dispatched from Portlaoise. The armoured car was blown up by a second landmine and, in the ensuing firefight, Pte Thomas Grace from Mountrath was killed.

Brig Mick Gray, Lt Tierney, privates George Greene, George Taylor and Laurence Hennessy were wounded in this exchange. Reinforcements were sent from Portlaoise.

Two of their commanders, Cmdt Austin McCurtin from Nenagh and Cmdt Sean (Jack) Collison from Moneygall, were killed and Capt Joubert Powell wounded as they approached the ambush party which had retreated to a sandpit in the back of a field
Twenty-one Anti-Treaty volunteers subsequently surrendered to Lt (later Lt Gen) MJ Costello without suffering casualties. They were later interviewed by Michael Collins to establish what had happened.

One hundred years on, a plaque has been erected to honour not just the memory of those killed near this spot but all who lost their lives in the War of Independence and the Civil War as well as the almost 90 other Irish soldiers who have died in action since then.

The unveiling of the plaque was carried out by RTE presenter John Bowman; the plaque was funded by Nenagh native and Stripe founder John Collison, a great grand nephew of Cmdt Collison.

The event was organised by the Tonduff Commemoration Committee, whose members include Declan Collison, Denis Collison, Gerry Collison, Tony Collison and John Flannery of Tipperary in the Decade of Revolution.

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