The decade of centenaries ( a commemoration of the events of the years 1912-1922) has brought renewed interest in all manner of events connected with and arising from the War of Independence and the subsequent Civil War. There are a number of notable memoirs and autobiographies arising from those years - among them Dan Breen's My fight for Irish Freedom and the two volumes of Ernie O' Malley's principal biography - as well as other more local works such as On the Run by Colm ó Gaora. However, in late 2016 a hitherto unpublished narrative biography was issued on John Joe O'Brien, who was intimately involved in War of Independence events in East and South East Limerick. Written by his son Stan O'Brien with input also from John Joe's grandson, Mr. Kerry O'Brien ( John Joe himself died in 1967) and based on notes and family transcripts, as well as subsequent accounts from The Bureau of Irish Military History, the book is a striking narrative of one family's role in events - notably the rescue and attack at Knocklong Railway station on 13th May 1919.
O'Brien was involved in the dramatic rescue of Seán Hogan which took place at the railway station in Knocklong during the War of Independence on 13 May 1919. Hogan's colleagues from the Third Tipperary Brigade -- Seán Treacy, Dan Breen and Séamus Robinson—were joined by Ned Foley, JJ O'Brien, Ned O'Brien, Seán Lynch, and Jim Scanlon from the East Limerick Brigade, to organise Hogan's rescue. Hogan was being transported by train to Cork, and the men, led by Treacy, boarded the train in Knocklong. A close-range shoot-out followed on the train. Treacy and Breen were seriously wounded in the gun fight, two policemen (Sergeant Peter Wallace and Constable Enright) died, but Hogan was rescued. He was spirited away to Knocklong village, where his handcuffs were opened by Séan Lynch, one of the rescuers, in the local butcher's shop. The rescue at Knocklong is commemorated in the song "The Station of Knocklong", which was a popular ballad during the Irish War of Independence. Ned Foley was later arrested and executed for his part in the rescue.
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