Tipperary military history group hopes for a changing of the guard at the barracks

For decades there have been differing opinions, locally and nationally, as to what Summerhill Army Barracks in Nenagh should become.

This year marks the 190th anniversary of the construction of the barracks, which have housed many groups including two-thirds of British Army regiments, the IRA, FCA, local defense forces and the Ministry of Defense .

There has been a lot of attention on the barracks over the past two years in particular, as seen in the newspapers and online.
February 13, 2022 marked the centenary of the handover of British Army Barracks to Irish Free State troops, with the centenary event being held on the grounds and hosted by Tipperary in the Decade of the revolution (TIDR).

He raised the issue of the barracks, hoping that action could finally be taken on the site, discussed between different authorities and even raised as a parliamentary question.

TIDR member and local resident John Flannery says Nenagh holds a unique and compelling position in the military history milieu which dates back to the Battle of Rathurles – mentioned in the Annals of the Four Masters as having taken place in 994 AD . .

Since then, the area has featured in nearly every period of war and rebellion, including the Cromwellian Plantations and the Williamite Wars.

It was first decided to build a barracks at Summerhill in June 1829, before it was completed in June 1832 by local contractor John Hanly.

It was a detachment from Richmond Barracks to Templemore (now Garda College) and under the Limerick Military District.

The site is most famous in history for the Battle of Breeches mutiny by North Tipperary militia on 7 and 8 July 1856, which resulted in the death of four people and many injuries.

The number of troops stationed in the town subsequently declined, but were used to carry out parades/drills of the Royal Irish Regiment and Tipperary Light Infantry when unoccupied.

The barracks provided jobs for local contractors and family businesses to provide supplies.

The Nenagh Military History Facebook Group was created on June 2, 2021 by Michael J Reynolds.

Its aim is to create historical awareness of the rich military history of the city and surrounding areas, to promote an unbiased view from all points of view, and to draw attention to the need to stem the deterioration of the Nenagh military barracks and to proceed with its restoration.

In the past 12 months, there are just over 1,300 members. There are still 400 followers on Instagram.

Members consist of people ranging from locals to history buffs, journalists, scholars, historians, authors, politicians, among many other professions.

There are a variety of members who live locally, nationally, or even globally, from as far away as America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

A trustee of the group, Kay Nagle, chairman of the 18th of Foot Royal Irish Regiment and the South Irish Horse Association, recommends the page to anyone interested in the military history of the North Tipperary region, hoping “the barracks would a perfect location for a museum, something needed in a town the size of Nenagh”.

In September a petition on the Change.Org website titled Save Summerhill Military Barracks, Nenagh, County Tipperary began to raise awareness of the history of the military barracks and why it should be restored and not demolished. As of June 1, there were 880 signatures to date.

It helped relaunch the debate between individuals on what should become of this heritage site.

For example, when many military and police barracks were burnt down across Ireland with the departure of British troops, why was Nenagh Barracks not attacked?

Instead, the local IRA occupied it, followed by the pro-Treaty Irish National Army during the Civil War 100 years ago.

After the Nenagh Fallen Soldiers Remembrance held at the War Memorial on Ashe Road in November 2021, several people decided to set up a committee to try and come up with a plan and solution for the barracks.

Members are Michael J Reynolds, John Flannery, Ryan O’Meara, Mary Gallagher, UCD; Seamus O’Brien, Seamus Lawlor and Thomas Maguire. Via Zoom, due to covid restrictions at first, they discussed ideas on how the barracks could be saved and turned into a museum for other multi-community purposes.

Programs include participation in the Shared Island initiative.

While the military presence diminished in the aftermath of the 1856 mutiny, the barracks were used in the 1890s for local/cultural events such as local fairs, agricultural fairs, bazaars, parties, etc.

Ryan O’Meara, committee member and volunteer at the Thomas McDonagh MacDonagh Museum, Cloughjordan, believes that “our shared history on the island of Ireland is key to understanding who we are and where we come from. The history of Nenagh Army Barracks is complex and one of division and unification in our community and nationally.

“The state’s historic infrastructure, such as the Nenagh Military Barracks, is a vital part of our community’s historical record, and I believe it needs to be protected and promoted so that we are never forgotten all the way. traveled as a people.”

Certainly, a restoration project would be difficult financially, but not impossible. For example, the government announced an investment of 40 million euros to restore the Magazine Fort in Phoenix Park, Dublin, as part of the Enhanced Heritage Estate initiative.

Committee member Mary Gallagher said: ‘The barracks are a major site of Irish cultural memory, and the buildings are no more in ruins now than were other landmarks such as the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. The central location makes its land ideal for development as a community amenity space to match the wonderful regeneration around the castle and prison. Let’s act before it’s too late.”

A suggestion for the site with a museum is to have an educational aspect to the site.

Nenagh does not have a place for high school and university students to continue their education, but a state-of-the-art facility with the resources to help them would benefit multi-generational members of the community.

This amazing story comes to life daily on the Nenagh Military History Facebook page. Posts recall the role played by former residents of Nenagh – names like Hennessey, Donohoe, Hough, Urrell, to name but a few who won honors on battlefields as far afield as India, Africa and America.

The items are also reminiscent of later items, closer to home in our own War of Independence, Civil War and Emergency – as WWII was called here in Ireland.

It is a place for descendants who served in the military to share stories of family heritage.

The administrators of the group would like to thank each of the members for their involvement, from posting in the group to informing their families, friends, neighbors and colleagues. It is much appreciated and would not be possible without your help.

Everyone is invited to join the group on Facebook by researching Nenagh’s military history and to follow on Instagram. The petition is available on Change.org or through a Google search.

If you have any information on Nenagh’s military history or any suggestions to the committee, please do not hesitate to contact +353-83-0162768.

About Michael S. Montanez

Check Also

Lobby group calls for boycott of The Crown ahead of premiere

Hours before the long-awaited premiere of the Netflix blockbuster’s final season The crown finally falls, …