Longford Flying Column

The 5th Battalion officers that were used to form the Bn in 1923 had served with the Longford Flying Column under General Sean MacEoin. The following information gives a brief insight into this courageous Flying Column and some of their actions.

Battle of Ballinalee

The Battle of Ballinalee took place during the Irish War of Independence on 3 November 1920. The Irish Republican Army (IRA), led by Seán Mac Eoin, drove a force of British Army and Royal Irish Constabulary from the village of Ballinalee in County Longford. The 900 British troops hoped to burn the town as a reprisal, but were defeated by about 300 IRA volunteers. The village was the only one in all of Ireland to repel the British outright.

Clonfin Ambush


The Clonfin Ambush was an ambush carried out by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) on 1 February 1921, during the Irish War of Independence. It took place in the townland of Clonfin (or Cloonfin) between Ballinalee and Granard in County Longford. Four members of the Auxiliary Division were killed and eight were wounded in the ambush.
The IRA's North Longford Flying Column, 21 strong, led by Seán MacEoin, had been formed in late 1920. In that year they had killed 4 RIC policemen. In November, a company of Auxiliaries - a paramilitary police force formed out of ex-officers - had been stationed in the county to put down the local IRA, they were reinforced in January 1921.[1] Whereas previously the IRA had tried to operate in relatively large numbers, often attacking police barracks, from this point on, their GHQ in Dublin ordered smaller but more frequent attacks to be made.
The ambush site, on the road between Granard and Ballinalee, was well chosen. Sean McEoin selected a position where the ambushers had excellent cover and were barely visible to the British. The plan was to explode a mine as the lorries passed. The British assessment was that, "the ambush was most cleverly laid". The IRA were, however, unaware that their targets were Auxiliaries, who were usually a far more formidable enemy than the regular RIC or Black and Tans.
The IRA detonated the roadside bomb as two British lorries were passing a bridge, killing the driver of the first lorry instantly. The IRA unit then opened fire on the lorries, triggering a fire-fight of two hours. One of the Auxiliaries got away and managed to summon reinforcements.
During the fighting, four members of the IRA party worked their way around the flank of the Auxiliaries, killing their commander, Lt. Commander Worthington Craven. After his death, the remaining policemen surrendered. A total of four Auxiliaries had been killed and eight wounded.
Sean MacEoin's treatment of his prisoners was humane. He congratulated them on the fight they had put up and prevented his fighters from assaulting the Auxiliaries. He also had water brought from nearby houses for the British wounded. When he was later captured by the British, three Auxiliaries, who had been at Clonfin, testified at his court martial to his generous treatment of them at Clonfin. MacEoin's humanity delayed the IRA's getaway and they were almost caught by 14 lorries of British reinforcements as they escaped across Clonfin Wood.
The IRA captured 18 rifles, 20 revolvers ammunition, a Lewis gun and 800 rounds of ammunition.



Just a litle bit of information regarding a guy named JJ Brady who might have been one of the Officers, even Officer Commanding the 5 Inf Bn when it was formed in 1923 had he not taken the anti treaty side, I.m sure he could have been the first Occicer Commanding the Battalion but for the fact he was on the anti treaty side

James Joseph ('J.J.') Brady was born in Gaigue, Ballinamuck on July 18th, 1892 to Patrick Brady (a National School teacher) and Mary (nee Kerrigan). He was the eldest of seven children who were Elizabeth, Annie, Mary, Maggie, Bridget, and Thomas. Mary (Maura) was later a decorated member of Cumann na mBan.

J.J. joined the Irish Volunteers and was director of elections for the imprisoned Joe McGuinness in his successful election in May 1917 (Campaign slogan: 'Vote him in to get him out"). As secretary of the Ballinamuck Sinn Fein branch he was chair at the meeting at Ballinamuck in February, 1918 where Michael Collins encouraged a raid for arms resulting in his arrest in Dublin. In 1920 he was elected to the Longford County Council and was a member of the Sinn Fein North Longford District Court created by the Dail.

He was O/C 5th Battalion, Longford Brigade in 1920-1. As a member of the North Longford Flying Column he took part in the Clonfin ambush on February 1st 1921 as well as attacks on Ballinamuck Barracks and Top Barracks, Longford.. He was also on the train from Dublin when Sean MacEoin was arrested and shot at Mullingar and managed to get back to Longford to let the Brigade know of MacEoin's arrest.

After the War of Independence he took the anti-treaty side, eventually emigrated to the USA in 1929. When he died in 1958, he was given an IRA funeral with his coffin draped in the Irish flag and a volley fired into the New York sky.

 He was a cousin of Tom Brady and Paddy Lynch, both also members of the North Longford Flying Column.



5th Infantry Battalion Association

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Of Interest

  • www.military.ie
  • www.defence.ie
  • www.2fara.wordpress.com
  • www.idfva.ie
  • www.pdforra.ie
  • www.friendsofgarrison.com
  •  www.dfmagazine.ie
  • www.1916tour.ie
  • www.maritimeinjurycenter.com/jones-act