National Army Soldier Patrick Breen Jr


National Army Soldier Patrick Breen Jr (aged 19) of 92 Windmill Lane, Drogheda, Co. Louth (Kildorrery)

Date of incident: 18 Aug. 1922

Sources: CE, 21 Aug. 1922; SS, 26 Aug. 1922; Meath Chronicle, 26 Aug. 1922; MSPC/2D14 (Military Archives); Ó Coilean (2007), 96; Keane (2017), 296, 416.


Note: A member of B Company of the Dublin Guards in the National Army, Private Patrick Breen was shot in the side and killed on 18 August 1922 while attacking a house in or near Kildorrery occupied by anti-Treaty IRA forces.

The Cork Examiner of 21 August 1922 gave an extensive account of the Kildorrery encounter showing its seriousness: ‘A party of National troops on foot were attempted to be ambushed between Fermoy and Mitchelstown, on the Kildorrery side, on Friday afternoon [18 August], and a battle lasting close on an hour resulted. Twenty-five of the Irregulars were taken prisoners. The National forces lost one killed, while a second was seriously wounded. The National troops consisted of a body of about thirty men sent out from Fermoy as a rounding-up party. They were marching along the road not far from Kildorrery when a surprise attack was launched from a wood close to the road about 2 p.m. on Friday. The attackers, well concealed and under excellent cover, opened fire with rifles, and it was in the first outburst of firing that the National troops suffered their casualties.’ In this skirmish near Kildorrery, Commandant P. O’Connor of the Dublin Guards in the National Army was seriously wounded in the arm by a bomb. See CE, 21 Aug. 1922. The Meath Chronicle specifically mentioned the death of Drogheda native Private Patrick Breen. See Meath Chronicle, 26 Aug. 1922. But the National forces had clearly scored a significant victory, with the capture of ’27 prisoners, 50 rifles, several Thompson guns, signalling and engineering apparatus, explosives, ammunition, mines, bombs, a Ford motor car, [and] beds and bedding’, according to the official military account. See SS, 26 Aug. 1922.

According to an account by Seán Ó Coilean, ‘Troubled Times in Kildorrery, 1919-1922’, Mallow Field Journal, no. 25 (2007), 96, an unidentified National Army soldier was shot dead at Nash’s residence, on the top storey of a three-storey house in Kildorrery, on 18 August 1922. Another soldier was wounded in the same encounter when shot in the heel near the local church (and later reportedly died of gangrene) during the capture of the town by the National Army (Dublin Guards). Private Breen was the first National Army Soldier to die in this attack. It has not been established whether one of his comrades later died of gangrene from wounds suffered there.    

Born on St Patrick’s Day in 1903, Private Breen was 19 at the time of his death. Before joining the National Army, Breen had been employed as a ‘cattle blocker’ and contributed an average of £2 a week to the support of his mother Julia Breen. She was awarded a gratuity of £60 under the 1923 Army Pensions Act. Her husband Patrick Breen Sr was a cobbler by trade and a British army veteran in receipt of a pension of 15s. per week. There were eight children in the Breen family in early 1924, when the Garda Inspector’s Office at Drogheda submitted a report on the ages and earnings of those children who were in employment. Julia Breen was then stated to be ‘in very poor circumstances’. Private Breen was buried in Drogheda. See MSPC/2D14 (Military Archives).

Patrick Breen Jr was in 1911 one of the seven children of the shoemaker Patrick Breen Sr and his wife Julia, who then resided with their four sons and three daughters at 69 George’s Street in Fair Gate (Drogheda) in County Louth. Patrick Joseph Breen was their second son (then aged 8). The children ranged in age from 1 to 11; at least one other child was born after 1911.      

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