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William Crowley at The Old Military Barracks, Kilrush Road Ennis. Pic: Arthur Ellis.

New book captures history and life of Ennis Military Barracks

A FASCINATING new book detailing the history of Ennis Barracks and life therein is available to purchase.

The Old Military Barracks has been written by William Crowley, who recounts his own experience of growing up there, and presents a collection of articles on military history, residents, sport, maps and photographs associated with the the Barracks on the Kilrush Road.

“We had a massive big playground within the walls, also loyal neighbours and great friendship,” he said. “We  had our own sports field, our very own handball alley, our own boxing club which we utilized whenever youngsters from other parts of the town tried to overtake our territory and all disputes were handled in McGuane’s Field across from the front gate of the Barracks”.

In her introduction to the book, the Mayor of the Ennis Municipal District, Councillor Ann Norton noted the huge history associated with the facility. “It is so important that the history of the Military Barracks is in print for future generations. This will ensure our history is not forgotten and always remembered,” she wrote.

Long before the bugle of the Clare Militia echoed around the Turnpike, the buildings everyone knew as The Military Barracks were the County Fever Hospital. In 1834 a site in excess of two acres was found at the southern end of the Turnpike Road (the Kilrush Road did not exist at this time).  In 1836, the new fever hospital was completed. We learn from an article on the Fever Hospital by Eddie Lough about the background and conditions associated with the hospital. Later in the book Eddie tell the story of the Clare Militia and the background to the establishment of the Military Barracks and closure in July 1909. The official handover of the barracks to the Clare County Council occurred in March of 1910. In 1967, Dr Patrick Hillary opened a section of the building as St Clare’s School.

William lists the  names of families who lived in the barracks from 1921 to 1950. The complex was laid out in in eight blocks The family names include: Broderick, Browne, Burke, Capon, Corey, Crowley, Dinan, Doherty, Fahey, Gooch, Hanley, Harrison, Hassey, Heffernan, Keane, Kelly, Lennon, Lynch, Lynskey, Madigan, Meehan, Meere, Micks, Moroney, O’Connell, O’Loughlin, O’Sullivan, Shannahan, and Shaughnessy.

Later William expands this list with the names of families: Armstrong, Barrett, Benn, Burgess, Cahir, Collins, Coogan, Daffy, Frawley, Hegarty, Hehir, Herlihy, Hogan, Guilfoyle, Kerns, Loughnane, O’Donoughue, Ryan, Sampson, Sheehan, Sheridan, Studdert.

The book continues to give a profile and background to a number of the above families.

A list of current residents is also included with reflections on their residency from Oonagh McNamara, Breda Sammon, Dermot Hayes, Jean White, Michael Considine and Peter McDonald.

We also get reminisces on the Barrack from Francis Keane, Dermot & John O’Sullivan, Tony Hahessy, Michael O’ Connell, Brian Merry, Cora Hahessy-McNulty.

Ollie Byrnes reflects on hurling and music in the Old Military Barracks.

The book lists all the residents using the 1901 and 1911 Census returns, baptismal records, school records, grave stone inscriptions, obituaries, war records, voting registers, and the recollections of former residents.

The book is in full colour with over 150 photos  and goes on sale this Friday at Ennis Book Shop, Abbey Street; Mary Kelly’s Newsagents, O’Connell Street; and O’Connor’s Newsagents on The Market. The cost is €15 and all proceeds go to Clare Roots Society, towards the cost of publication.

The society acknowledges the sponsorship and continued support of Ennis Municipal Council.

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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