Abandoned ireland


Phoenix Park

Magazine Fort, Dublin

Documenting our Heritage

The Dublin magazine fort was built in 1735. The fort can be found in the west of Dublin city, north of the River Liffey within Phoenix Park. The building is located in the south-eastern part of the park, close by a wooded ridge. It has a commanding view of the surrounding area.

During the British occupation of the area, the Fort had been seen as a symbol of that occupation but by 1939 its purpose was to house the Irish Army's stocks of guns and ammunition.

The magazine fort seems to serve no useful purpose, nor ever did as the jingle by Jonathan Swift (1667 to 1745, Author of Gulliver's Travels etc ) proclaims:

"Now's here's a proof of Irish sense

Here Irish wit is seen

When nothing's left that's worth defence,

We build a Magazine."

During the Easter Rising of 1916, thirty members of the Irish Volunteers and Fianna Eireann captured the Magazine Fort. They took guns and withdrew, after setting fires to blow up the magazine's ordinance; but the fuses burned out before reaching the ammunition and little damage was caused.

The Christmas Raid

The term Christmas Raid is a name used within the folklore of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to describe the theft of a huge quantity of weapons and ammunition from the Regular Irish Army's ammunition Magazine Fort storage depot in Dublin's Phoenix Park.

The raid took place on 23 December 1939, and was immediately prior to the passing of the Emergency Powers Act in Ireland.

A total of 1,084,000 rounds of ammunition were taken and removed in thirteen lorries with no casualties or hindrance.

The ammunition didn't remain at large long, however. On 1 January 1940 it was reported that almost three quarters of the ammunition had been recovered - a total of 850,000 rounds -

Two and a half tons were seized in Dundalk, County Louth

Eight tons in Swords, County Dublin,

Sixty-six cases of Thompsons and ammunition in South Armagh (2 and a half tons captured by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)),

One hundred crates containing 120,000 rounds in Straffan, County Kildare.

The raid had turned into another disaster for the IRA to contend with. The volume of material stolen, and the massive hunt to recover it that followed turned up all the stolen ammunition and weapons plus more, along with the IRA volunteers attempting to store it. The positive effect on morale that the raid had made evaporated. The day after the raid the Irish Minister for Justice, Gerald Boland, at an emergency session of the Dail introduced the Emergency Powers bill to reinstate internment, Military Tribunal, and executions for IRA members. It was rushed through and given its third reading the next day creating the Emergency Powers Act.

Refer to Further Reading for more information on the Christmas Raid

Many thanks to fellow explorers:- C & D for helping out with this tricky exploration!

Phoenix Park Fort