Collins Barracks in Cork City is over 200 years old. First occupied in 1806, it was one of the largest British military installations in Ireland. Unlike other barracks in Ireland, it didn't serve as a regimental headquarters. Instead, because of its proximity to Cork harbour and the city's rail network, it became a staging post for British units heading off to some part of the British Empire, or to take part in one of the major conflicts of the 19th Century and the First World War. Included among the personnel who visited or served in the in the barracks were the Duke of Wellington, Field Marshal French and Field Marshal Montgomery.
During the Irish War of Independence, the barracks held the headquarters of the 6th Division, commanded by Major General E.P. Strickland, and the 17th Brigade, commanded by Brigadier General Harold Whitla Higginson. In December 1920, it also became the home of K Company of the Auxiliary Division of the RIC.
Under the terms of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, the British Army evacuated the barracks on 18 May 1922. It was then occupied by members of Cork No. 1 Brigade of the IRA. This unit opposed the Treaty and during the Irish Civil War, it put the barracks to the torch to prevent it being occupied by the National Army. After the war the barracks was rebuilt and named after Michael Collins. Today it holds the headquarters of 1 Brigade of the Irish Army.
This illustrated lecture will tell the fascinating story of this barracks and its place in British and Irish military history.
Gerry White is the Island of Ireland Trustee and chair of the Cork Branch of the WFA. He has 43 years service in the Irish Army, most of which was spent in Collins Barracks. Included among his his publications is, 'The Barracks - A History of Victoria/Collins Barracks, Cork'.