The Monument

How It Came About

The project to provide a monument and the unveiling event on the 100 year anniversary started with an informal meeting of members of the Tynan family, who own the land where the monument is sited, with members of the extended Collison family and local historians  on the 99th anniversary of the Tonduff “Incident”.

Two members of the Tynan family are officers in the Army with the rank of Commandant - the same rank as the two officers who where killed in the engagement. This, together with the stories of the ambush and follow up operation, meant that the family already had a keen interest in, and knowledge of, the engagement.Additionally, Mike Rafter, a local historian had written a book about the War of Independence and Civil War in County Laois and this contained a detailed chapter on Tonduff.
The group started working on a text for the monument - keeping in mind the guidance from the Decade of Centenaries Committee on the importance of commemorating events rather than just people.We consulted other historians and the families including the Sheehy family, descendants of Michael Sheehy one of the leaders of the anti-treaty volunteers on the day. We strove be factual while using language that was respectful and non partisan. It was decided to also include a map to explain the events of the day since they evolved over, and between, two separate places.

The stone used in the monument is Wicklow granite procured from Ryanstone in Blessington (and weighs approx two tonnes). Cast .ie, who are based in the Liberties area of Dublin City and have done many of the bronze castings for plaques and statues around the country, were chosen to cast the bronze plaques.The costs of the project were borne by John Collison - great-grandnephew of the John Collison who died in the engagement.

Gerry Collison is the curator for this site. Please liaise with him at if you have further material which you believe might be appropriate to include here.

Committee Members:
Anthony Tynan
John Tynan
Mike Rafter
Declan Collison
Denis Collison
Gerry Collison
Tony Collison
John Flannery
The Tonduff Ambush was the largest military engagement in County Laois during the Civil War. This tragic conflict turned Irish men and women against former comrades with whom they had fought against British forces in the War of Independence a few months earlier.

On the afternoon of July 28, 1922, Anti-Treaty forces led by Commander Michael Sheehy, Brigade Commander Tom Brady and Adjutant Lar Brady, waited in ambush on the main N77 Road about a kilometre from here. Their target was a detachment of National Army soldiers believed to be transporting wages from Kilkenny to Portlaoise.
A landmine they laid on the road was spotted by a passerby, resulting in an armoured car and two lorries of National Army troops being dispatched from Portlaoise.

The armoured car was blown up by a second landmine and, in the ensuing firefight, Private Thomas Grace from Mountrath was killed. Brigadier Mick Gray, Lieutenant Tierney, Privates George Greene, George Taylor and Laurence Hennessy were wounded in this exchange.

Reinforcements were sent from Portlaoise. Two of their commanders, Commandant Austin McCurtin from Nenagh and Commandant Sean (Jack) Collison from Moneygall, were killed and Captain Joubert Powell wounded as they approached the ambush party which had retreated to a sandpit at the back of this field.

Twenty-one Anti-Treaty volunteers subsequently surrendered to Lieutenant (later Lieutenant General) MJ Costello without suffering casualties.

One hundred years on, this plaque has been erected to honour not just the memory of those killed near this spot but all who lost their lives in the War of Independence and the Civil War as well as the almost 90 other Irish soldiers who have died in action since then.

Suaimhneas síoraí dá n-anamacha cróga