Woman who sheltered Dan Breen granted pension 32 years later

Marian Tobin provided safe house following ambush which started War of Independence

Dan Breen as pictured in a wanted poster issued by police.

Dan Breen as pictured in a wanted poster issued by police.

 

A woman who sheltered Dan Breen and Seán Treacy after the incident which started the War of Independence was eventually awarded a military pension.

Marian Tobin from Lansdowne Park in Limerick cited written testimonials from both Breen and his commanding officer Séamus Robinson arising out of the Soloheadbeg ambush in Co Tipperary in January 1919 in which two members of the Royal Irish Constabulary were killed while escorting a consignment of gelignite to a quarry.

In a letter written in 1950, Breen wrote in praise of Mrs Tobin, saying it was she who sheltered him and the others involved in the ambush for several days “while the area was very hot”.

Breen praised Mrs Tobin and described her as “one of the best workers we had from 1917 to 1923. There are few woman and not many men who gave more help than Mrs Tobin”.

He also mentioned her in his bestselling memoir My Fight for Irish Freedom, published in 1924, in which he thanked her for sheltering them while they were on the run. “I shall never forget her kindness to us that night. Her house was ever open for the ‘boys’,” he wrote.

Corroborating information relating to her home being used as a safe house was provided to the pensions board by Robinson, the commanding officer of the Third Tipperary Brigade,who was also at Soloheadbeg.

Mrs Tobin had been the first person to receive with “open arms and encouragement” the men who carried out the Soloheadbeg ambush, he stated. The unauthorised attack was hugely controversial even in Republican circles at the time. He went on to state that her home was in constant use by the IRA from 1919 until 1923 and she was a “de facto” member of the organisation.

Mrs Tobin first made an application for a pension in 1949 stating that previously she had not needed help, but was now “sorely in need” of the money. In 1951 she was granted a pension of £18, 19 shillings and twopence (almost £19) a year.