Con Hogan delivers wonderful oration at the grave of Sean Treacy to mark 100th anniversary

Noel Dundon


Noel Dundon


Con Hogan

Con HOgan delivering the oration with his brother Pat seated beside him

"Does anyone here believe that a small nation such as ours, tied administratively, economically, and fiscally to our much bigger nearest neighbour through Home Rule, would have progressed as we have since independence."- Con Hogan

Due to the Covid-19 restrictions in place around the country at the present time, it was not possible to deliver the oration at the annual commemoration at Sean Treacy’s graveside, on the 100th anniversary of his death. Below is the text of the oration, which has being circulated instead to the membership of the Third Tipperary Brigade Old IRA Commemoration Committee.

The oration was delivered by former Tipperary GAA Board Chairman, Con Hogan,  whose grandfather, Con Moloney, was at the time, Adjutant of the 3rd Tipperary Brigade.

Is an-chúis onóire domsa gur iarriagh Coiste Comórtha an Treas Briogáid orm an oráid céad blian i gcuimhne ar Sean Ó Treasaigh a thabhairt inniú. Áit naofa an uaigh seo in a bhfuil curtha Saighdiúr agus Taoiseach Éireannach a chaith agus a thug a saol óg ar son saoirse na Tíre.

Mr. Chairman, in expressing my sincere thanks to you and the Members of the Third Tipperary Brigade Old IRA Commeration Committee for according me the very special privilage of addressing this gathering today, I am conscious that I do so as the Covid pandemic ravages our society and we are here mindful of the sadness and trauma that it has brought to many homes.

It is, too, an historical coincidence that the 3rd Tipperary Brigade was founded in October 1918 in Tipperary Town, in the middle of the Spanish flu pandemic which claimed the lives of more than 20,000 Irish people.

I am also struck by the fact that the circumstances of the first oration were so different. You have referred to the fact that my Grandfather, Con Moloney stood at this graveside 100 years ago on the day Sean Treacy was buried and gave the oration. Due to the prevailing turbulance of that time and the fact that the British military surrounded the graveyard, his words were, of necessity few, a mere four sentences. That I have the time to address you at somewhat more length today, and that you have the opportunity to listen unhindered, highlights very clearly the freedom we enjoy now compared to the very different situation in Ireland in October 1920.

Sean Treacy who was shot dead 100 years ago in Talbot Street, Thurles

100 years ago, on October 18th, they brought Sean Treacy home, home to Tipperary. He had fought his last fight in Talbot Street in Dublin, and now he would rest forever in Kilfeacle, only a stone throw from where he and his comrades fired their first shots for freedom at Soloheadbeg in January 1919. In less than two years he and his comrades in the Third Tipperary Brigade and the Army of the Republic throughout Ireland had once again re-ignited the flame of freedom and this time it would not be extinguished.

War is never the best option in resolving human conflict; it brings tragedy, lost lives, innocent victims, and enduring bitterness, but there are times in human history when it is the only option. When there is opression by a foreign power, denial of basic human rights, manipulation of the rule of law in favour of the dominant power and denial of the right to self government, then the only option for an opressed people, the option that has led to the establishment of some of the great democracies of the world, is to assert in arms its rights to freedom.

At Soloheadbeg, Knocklong, Rearcross, Hollyford, Drangan, Oola, Ashtown, Fernside and finally and tragically on Talbot Street, Sean Treacy asserted the right of his country to freedom and gave his all, including ultimately, his life for the cause he stood for.

Treacy was only 25 when he died and many of his comrades were even younger. It is to me a constant source of wonder and a vindication of the triumph of the human spirit that such a small number of young men and women could have achieved so much against such overwhelming odds.

In his graveside oration 100 years ago this week, the Brigade Adjutant said that Treacy’s death must “strengthen our resolve to continue on the path he opened for us; to strive for the ideals for which he gave his life.”

The path Sean Treacy and his comrades opened was no less than the path to Nationhood, where the people are sovereign, where every man and woman has the right to live and prosper and their children to flourish and develop.

There are those who would say that it was all unnecessary, that asserting in arms our right to independence was a folly or wrong and that Home Rule would have satisfied our national aspirations. I do not accept that.

The fact is that after the Act of Union and ntralised in London.

William Gladstone, much lauded as a friend of Ireland, when he was President of the Board of Trade in the 1840s, abolished the Irish Treasury, and pursued an agressive policy of maximising financial inflows from throughout the empire to the London treasury while reducing the subventions to subject states. He would describe his Irish fiscal policy as “finance devices… too subtle and refined to be announced to the general public”. He also, incidentally, introduced the secret service to Ireland.

True, when he was Prime Minister, Gladstone introduced two Home Rule bills; Local Assemblies would look good and appease the people, but he made sure before he did so that London would control the levers of state and our assembly would have been little more than a talking shop.

The Irish people, the people from whom the 3rd Brigade was sprung, saw through that, and when given their choice through the ballot box, they gave their answer.

When they were presented with a clear choice between the third Home Rule Act, enacted but suspended in 1914, and a Sovereign Republic, in the election of December 1918 , Ireland voted for a Republic, returning 73 Sinn Fein Republican Members of Parliament and wiping out the Parliamentary Party who supported Home Rule.

When the will of the people was given expression with the establishment of Dail Eireann and the Irish Government in January 1919, it is one of the many tragedies of the our historical connection with Britain that instead of recognizing Dail Eireann, the London Government suppressed it with military force. Had they at that time engaged in dialogue and sought to accommodate the will of the people, then the War of Independence might have been very short, and the tragedy of civil war averted.

Does anyone here believe that a small nation such as ours, tied administratively, economically, and fiscally to our much bigger nearest neighbour through Home Rule, would have progressed as we have since independence. That we would have been able to prosper economically, that we would have been able to take our place and make our contribution among Nations, as we have to the League of Nations, the United Nations, to peace keeping, to Third World development, and to Europe – I don’t think so, and I believe the evidence of the past 100 years supports that view.

The benefits of self-determination that Sean Treacy and his comrades won for us, have been many and obvious in this part of Ireland. We are prosperous and at peace. Our children are among the best educated in the World. We are part of the great European movement with a common European citizenship and playing an active part in its development. At the same time our native games, music, and culture are strong, vibrant, and unique to us. We have become a confident people with our own distinct identity and our own contribution to make, wherever we travel in the World.

The legacy of our troubled relationship with Britain is still playing itself out in Northern Ireland, but happily the path to a final settlement has been charted in the Good Friday Agreement. Problems still exist, the most recent being the Brexit conundrum and the willingness of the Government in Whitehall to ignore international law and the Northern Ireland Agreement itself, in pursuit of jingoistic and narrow national aims.

But notwithstanding that, or perhaps even because of it, progress to a final solution is moving inexorably forward and cannot now be far off.

Now is the time for Irish political leadership to remain steady and unwavering, for In the long run, truth and justice and the right of all our people, Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter, to live as equals in their own land, must be vindicated. Only then will there be real and lasting peace.

Samantha Power, that exceptional Irishwoman, human rights campaigner, and recent United States Ambassador to the United Nations, presented us with a simple choice in dealing with human affairs, when she wrote that we can be either “bystanders or upstanders”

Sean Treacy and his comrades were no bystanders. They stood up for freedom and self government and gave us the country we have today.

Let us in our generation not be bystanders either; mere cynical observers of the ills of the World but doing nothing to change them.

Let us instead be upstanders, standing up for all that is good in society, and the opportunity for us to do that, and continue on the path that Sean Treacy opened, lies in service to the community. I have always believed that if communities are nurtured, developed and worked for, if the strong help the weak, if people are not left behind, particularly in the ever-increasing pace and complexity of modern life, if we hold out the model of simple living rather than joining in the race to pursue wealth and possessions for their own sake, we will all be better off. And our Country will too.

For while poverty and isolation, segregation, discrimination, and racism continue to exist in our society, we will not have achieved the ideals of those who founded the modern Ireland.

Let us today, then, salute all the volunteers in our Country who give so much, whether in local politics, co-operative movements, representative bodies, rural organisations, community associations, charitable organisations, credit unions, the GAA, cultural and sporting bodies generally, and the many, many more. If we doubt their value, try to imagine what society would be like without them. For they, by their service are enriching society, they are the modern patriots, they are the inheritors of the legacy of Sean Treacy.

Sean Treacy, his comrades in the 3rd Tipperary Brigade and the Irishmen and women of that extraordinary generation have left us that wonderful legacy. It is the duty of our generation to carry it on, to hand it down, to ensure that our economic prosperity will be the bedrock of a way of life that will respect the dignity and rights of every man and woman, without regard to race, creed or social status, in every part of Ireland.

For as long as we hold those values dear, there will always be people who will find inspiration at the grave of Sean Treacy, who in generations yet to come, to quote the words of the old ballad will be able:
“In Gaelic tongues to tell their sons
How brave Sean Treacy died.”