Abandoned ireland

 

Magee Barracks,

County Kildare

Documenting our Heritage

The construction of the artillery barracks in Kildare town commenced in 1900. It was built on the site of the Lock Hospital and the adjoining road is still called Hospital Street today. The census of 1901 records the construction crew: sixty-five carpenters and joiners and twenty-six plasters and painters, working under the foreman Thomas Ryan from Kildare. Thomas McLoughlin, also from Kildare operated a public house on site.


The first military units stationed in the barracks were the 31st and 33rd Brigades, Royal Field Artillery, which consisted of five batteries of artillery all of which served in the World War I in 1914.


Following the war of Independence and signing of the treaty, the British made plans to vacate the barracks. A few weeks before they left, on 10th February 1922, Lieutenant John Wogan Browne, went to the Hibernian Bank to collect the regimental pay. As he left the bank a car pulled up along side him and three men grabbed the bag which contained £135 (about Euro 25,000 in today's money).

Wogan-Browne attempted to recover the bag but was shot in the head and died on the spot.


On 20th March 1925, the Irish Artillery Corps replaced the earlier British forces and took up their station at the barracks. The Corps consisted of five officers, eighteen NCOs and ninety-three gunners.


Supporting this force were as farrier, two shoeing smiths, two saddlers, five signallers, two trumpeters, three cooks, two clerks, four sergeants, and twenty-nine drivers. Each battery had four 18 pounder guns. The smiths and farriers would have been kept busy as two batteries of artillery required a regulation 125 horses.


In 1938 a new barracks was built on the site and this was named Magee Barracks after Gunner James Magee, formerly of the Mayo Militia, who switched sides and raised the green flag for the Irish at the battle of Ballinamuck in September 1798. Magee was later captured and executed by the British forces.


In March 1939, most of the horses were sold at public auction in Dublin as the Artillery Corps switched to mechanized artillery.


The Corps never fired a shot in anger and one of the artillery men joked that sometimes the heavy weapons had to be hauled to the Glen of Imaal in the Wicklow mountains where, after having tea, a few shots would be fired. No one ever knew where they landed. He reckoned on spending his 8 years in the armed forces playing snooker. A game at which he became quite proficient.


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The Kildare Barracks were finally closed in 1998. It severed as a a home for Kosovan refugees and asylum seekers for a couple of years, and was then abandoned.

This article is the copyright of Tarquin Blake, Abandoned Ireland, and may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

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