Full Name: Thomas Gregan, nicknamed Chicky.

Address: 5a Upper Jane Place

Unit: A Coy, 2nd Battalion, Dublin Brigade

Born: 14 May 1901 at 49 Seville Cottages

Parents: James (a Labourer) and Bridget (originally Flood), a Dressmaker.

Siblings: Older brothers Samuel and Christopher and younger sister Maggie.

Military Service: Tommy joined the IRA in 1919 at Abbey Street. He served with A Coy, 2nd Battalion during the War of Independence. From April 1920 he was involved in armed street patrols in the North Strand and Dorset Street areas; a raid on Russell Street Post Office for communications equipment; and the disarming of DMP in the city, in November 1920. In 1921 he supported the ambush by F Coy at The Thatch, Whitehall. Under Capt. Cyril Daly, he was with an armed party posted on Dorset Street to prevent crown forces reinforcements reaching the ambush scene. Tommy was also called out of bed on the morning of the planned train ambush at Killester, but that attack failed.

On 25 May he was involved in the destruction of the Custom House. He mentioned that in the month prior to the attack he was involved in commandeering petrol [sic]. At the Burning Tommy was with two comrades, one armed, to deal with the rooms of a specific department; he was given a hammer and told to smash up the furniture and fittings; take ledgers and papers off shelves and scatter them on the floor where they were set alight. He said he surrendered when coming out of the building and was interned in Arbour Hill, then Kilmainham Gaol until December 1921.

Burning of Dublin Custom House 1921
A real shame this attempted photo cannot be rescued (Kilmainham Gaol Museum)

After his release he did not follow the majority of his old Coy and 2nd Battalion comrades. Instead he joined the newly established K Coy under Captain Michael Murphy, along with Gerry Hughes, two other Custom House Fire Brigade Men known to have been anti-Treaty IRA. He was then transferred to the new Dublin Guards at Beggars Bush before the IRA split. When that occurred he “stepped out”, as he put it, and left the new Army. Gregan attended the Dublin Brigade Republican mobilisation parade at Smithfield on 2 April 1922 where he re-affirmed his Oath to The Republic.

At the outset of the Civil War Thomas was with a party of 30-40 IRA men under his old Captain Cyril Daly, occupying Mullet’s shop in Parnell Street where they were attacked several times by a Free State armored car. Around the same time as the surrender of the Four Courts they had to evacuate. Gregan was able to get away safely. He decided to go home and took no further part in the Civil War.

Personal Life: He was a Junior Clerk with G. H. Dawson’s when he joined the IRA. He was sacked after his arrest at the Custom House and could not find alternative work until after the Civil War ended when he became a Docker in Dublin Port. He also lived at Block B, Buckingham Buildings and 4 Leland Place, off Commons Street, North Wall.

Tommy married Alicia Murphy at St Laurence O’Toole’s church on 23 June 1925. He was a Labourer from 5a Upper Jane Place. Thomas Gregan died on 21 January 1969 aged 67, a widower and Docker late of 16 H St Laurence’s Mansions, Sheriff Street. He was buried in Balgriffin Cemetery plot H119 beside his wife, survived by his sons (one also named Thomas), daughters, brothers and sister.

Remarks: Thomas was awarded a Military Service Pension under the 1934 Act for approximately one-and-three-quarters years service – MSP34REF91 (Due to a technical glitch the files were not accessible online until 5 December 2022). There is a reference letter by Cyril Daly commending Tommy as a good Volunteer who could be counted on to carry out any task given to him.

Chicky’s photo taken in Kilmainham unfortunately produced just a ghostly image. History seems to have conspired against him! His autograph and a verse he wrote did, however, survive.

Burning of Dublin Custom House 1921
A little insight into his time in Kilmainham

Relatives: Son Tom and his four sisters. When this piece was written we did not know of the Gregan descendants. However, thanks to Chickey’s son Tom, we now have this lovely family photo.

Burning of Dublin Custom House 1921
Tommy and Alicia with their family, early 1960s (Courtesy of Tom Gregan, shown at back)

Des White