HISTORY OF A BARRACKS

 

Sir. - Further to your photograph of the final passing out of the Fifth Infantry Battalion from Collins Barracks (April 19th), I would ask that you use the Defence Force's handout to place to on record the long military history of this site and further that you allow the museum to acknowledge its indebtedness to the Defence Forces for their graciousness, courtesy and welcome to us in what for them must be circumstances tinged with very mixed feelings.

Until last Friday the barracks held an international record - that of being the oldest continually occupied barracks in the world. The building of what became the `Royal Barracks' commenced in 1701 and was first occupied in 1704. Among the major historical events that took place there were the court martial of Wolfe Tone and the executions of many of those who took part in the 1798 Rebellion. It became home to the Viceroy after the Phoenix Park assassinations in 1882.

Throughout its long occupation by the British army, the major units in the barracks were infantry and cavalry and were as follows:

1704-11 Col. Pierce's Foot.

1711-20 Ferwick' Regiment, Hasard's Regiment and 5 Dragoons.

1721-40 Purcell's Regiment and 3 King's Own Hussars.

1741-70 Cameronian Regiment and 8 Hussars.

1771-97 37 Foot Hamshires and Royal Irish Regiment.

1798-99 68 Regiment.

1799-1810 71 Fdot, 76 Foot and 11 Hussars.

1811-30 Royal Irish Fusiliers and 12 lancers.

1831-66 28 Regiment foot and 66 Foot Berkshires.

1867-81 Grenadier Guards and Royal Irish Regiment.

1882-1901 2 Bn Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

1901-1915 East Lancashire Regiment.

1916 2 Bn Sherwood Foresters.

1917-22 2 South Lancashire Regiment and 2 Bn Wiltshire Regiment.

The barracks was taken over by troops of the Free State Army under General Mulcahy on December 17, 1922. The Royal Barracks was renamed Collins Barracks. The 5th Infantry Battalion was originally formed in February, 1923, although it has occupied a number of stations it has long been associated with Collins Barracks. The battalion was the major unit at Collins from 1928 to 1940 and from 1959 to today.

Let us use the occasion of the passing out to remember the military men (and indeed there prisoners) of all ranks, origins and backgrounds who served in the way they were commanded in this historic part of Dublin for very nearly three centuries. May we also wish the 5th Infantry Battalion prosperity and luck in their continuity at McKee Barracks. Hopefully, they are not too far away to regard the National Museum of Ireland as the best of neighbours and worthy successors on their old site. - Yours, etc.

Director,

National Museum of Ireland,

Kildare Street,

Dublin 2.