Restoration of Richmond Barracks
Richmond Barracks is a key site for many significant events in Ireland’s history and of particular significance to the period around 1916. The leaders of the 1916 Rising were interned and court-martialled within the barracks before being transferred to Kilmainham Gaol. It was also from here that soldiers, including the poet Francis Ledwidge, were transported to fight in World War 1.
The immense potential to develop the Barracks as a visitor centre which will contribute to the historic, social and cultural life of the city and country has been recognised and the restoration of the Barracks has been funded as a national commemorative project. As part of the funding allocation it was acknowledged that the development of this site has the potential to transform a traditionally disadvantaged area of Dublin city.
Latest Renovation Work at Richmond Barracks:
Richmond Barracks Inchicore - A 200 Year History
The 200 year history of Richmond Barracks site is fascinating, not only does it tell something of the British colonial era and the struggle for independence but also reflects the history of working class families housed there during the period from 1929 right up to recent years.
Richmond Barracks is clearly a very an important site nationally and historically which highlights two opposing positions in Irish history notably those who fought against the British Army during the 1916 Rising and those Irish who served in the British Army to fight in World War 1.
The Construction of Richmond Barracks began in 1810 and was completed in 1814. It was built by the British Government to counter the threat of a French invasion during Napoleonic times and it subsequently became a post for recruiting soldiers.
Between 1864 and 1867, three additional buildings were constructed (which are the ones in situ today, 2014) to accommodate a gymnasium and two recreation rooms to counter the boredom of day time barracks living.
The barracks served as a British military barracks for over 108 years and detachments of soldiers left from there for service in conflicts which included the Crimean War, Boer War and World War 1. After the outbreak of World War 1, Lord Dunsany a Co. Meath landowner joined the 5th Royal Inniskillings at Richmond Barracks and soon after his friend the well known poet Francis Ledwidge also joined, who whilst there wrote many poems.
The buildings have significant connections to the 1916 Rising and events that took place in its aftermath. The Royal Irish Regiment was based there and engaged in fighting the Irish Volunteers led by Eamon Ceannt. Following the surrender, over 3,000 suspected rebels where held there before being sent onto prisons elsewhere.
1916 Prisoners in Richmond Barracks
Court martials took place at the barracks and some of those found guilty were subsequently taken to be executed in nearby Kilmainham Goal. Furthermore the seven signatories to the Proclamation where led from the Barracks to Kilmainham Gaol for execution.
Other notable people held there included; Eamon de Valera, Countess Markievicz, Michael Collins, Arthur Griffith, William T. Cosgrave, Eoin O’Neill, Thomas Ashe, Noel Lemass and Sean T. O’Kelly.
1916 detainees in one of the barracks rooms
In 1922 the Barracks was handed over to the Free State Army and renamed Keogh Barracks and in 1924 most the buildings and site were handed over to Dublin Corporation and converted into a Housing Scheme known as Keogh Square which, following many years of social deprivation and bad physical conditions was subsequently demolished in 1969. This meant that most of the original Barrack Buildings were then gone and a new Housing Estate (Apartment Complex) called St. Michael’s Estate was constructed on the site.
The remaining Barrack buildings (that exist today) and some land was given to the Christian Brothers in 1929 and served as a school until 2003. This property was acquired by Dublin City Council in 2005.
The St. Michael’s Housing Estate has been totally demolished in recent years and the site is currently undeveloped.
Dublin City Council disposed some of the existing Barrack buildings and land to the Health Services Executive in 2008 and they have constructed a local Primary Health Centre there. This Development is very sensitive to Historical and Conservation issues. Therefore the remaining three original Barrack buildings (including the gymnasium) are now part of a Commemorative Restoration Project which is being led by Dublin City Council.
The key objective of the Project is to develop a Visitor attraction as an integral part of a wider heritage trail of significant historical locations in the Dublin 8 area which include the War Memorial Gardens and Kilmainham Gaol as well as maximising the potential to develop an interesting “Tourist Triangle” in this area.
Overall the restoration project has National importance and when completed will provide a cultural, educational, heritage, tourist, and community attraction/facility.
Dublin City Council has the responsibility to manage and deliver this very important project within the allocated Government funding of £3.5 Million.
Please visit www.richmondbarracks.ie for more information or follow us on twitter/facebook.
Eadaoin Ni Chleirigh - Chair of Advisory Group