Provisional Government Take Possession of Barracks

Provisional Government Take Possession of Barracks

Provisional Government Take Possession of Barracks

Updated 2 February 2022

In January 1922, military and police barracks began to be handed over to the newly established Irish Provisional Government. On Thursday the 26th, 150 officers and men vacated Clogheen Barracks, Co. Tipperary; on Saturday 28th, Mallow Military Barracks in Co. Cork, was handed over to Commandant General Liam Lynch; on Sunday the 29th, in Cahir, Co. Tipperary the 2nd Brigade Royal Filed Artillery vacated and handed over the barracks; while on Wednesday 1 February, in Sligo, the 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment handed over their barracks at the courthouse. In all cases local units of the Irish Republican Army (I.R.A.) took possession. Also on the 31 January, the headquarters of the Auxiliary Division, Royal Irish Constabulary (R,I.C.), at Beggar’s Bush Barracks, Haddington Road, Dublin, was formally handed over to the Provisional Government: Commandant-General M’Mahon Quartermaster IRA, and Commandant J. Dalton Chief Liaison Officer, took over the barracks from Mr. A. W. Cope, Assistant Under-Secretary, Dublin Castle and General Wood, Commander of the Auxiliary RIC.

To cheering crowds the following day a newly uniformed and armed contingent of the Dublin Guard marched through Dublin City to take possession of the barracks. The detachment of Provisional Government troops had been in training and equipping in the Celbridge Workhouse (today Colourtrend) , Co. Kildare, for several weeks. Travelling by char-à-banc, they assembled at the Gough Memorial at the Phoenix Park under the command of Captain Paddy Daly. The Freeman’s Journal commented on the detachments turnout and the men themselves: ‘All carried short Lee-Enfield rifles of the most recent make. They were stalwart men, none under six foot, broad-shouldered and athletic, veterans in the War of Freedom.’ Their new grey-green uniform was produced by The Irish Co-operative Clothing Manufacturing Society.

Led by the Fianna Pipe Band in their saffron kilts, the contingent paraded from the Phoenix Park at 2:30pm, down the quays, across Gratton Bridge and down Dame Street. Along the way the were cheered by vigorous crowds. At City Hall (the Provisional Government offices), delegates were there to review them including President of the Provisional Government Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins. As they got closer to City Hall the crowds could hear the familiar tune ‘the Green Flag’. On approaching the reviewing stand the City Hall Guard saluted and were ordered to ‘Present – Arms!’, returning the salute Captain Daly ordered ‘Eyes – Right!’

The contingent then paraded past College Green, Trinity College, Merrion Square, and Mount Street. All along the way people cheer the small band on with shouts of ‘Hurrah!’ and ‘God Save Ireland!’ tricolour flags adorned the crowds and hung from buildings. As they approached Beggar’s Bush Barracks, around 3:30pm, the Dublin Metropolitan Police on duty opened the gates. On entry the gates were closed to the public.

A clip from the British Pathé News Archive showing the handover of Beggar’s Bush Barracks to the Provisional Government.

Entering the barracks, the Provisional Government troops were met by a select gathering of priests and officials. Waiting to handover the barracks were Mr James McMabon, Under-Secretary of State and Mr A. W. Cope, Assistant Under-Secretary. Provisional Government delegates included Mr Richard Mulcahy (in a Comdt’s uniform), Minister for Defence, accompanied by his wife; General Eoin O’Duffy, Chief of Staff, and G O’Sullivan, Adjacent General.

Sunday Independent, 5 February 1922.

Lined up on the square the contingent were inspected by O’Daffy and Mulcahy, who presented a large tricolour to Captain Daly. Following the inspection Mr Mulcahy delivered a short address in which he praised Daly’s men for being the first of a new army and thanked them individually, he said that this was an ‘event of which they could not at present estimate the importance.’

The Dublin Guard and Fianna Pipe Band at Beggar’s Bush Barracks. (Image courtesy of Military Archives)

The papers also noted that on the same day the Provisional Government received from Gormanstown Camp, twenty-one former RIC motor vehicles, comprising: three Leyland lorries and eighteen Crossley and Hudson touring cars; the latter including six tenders with 6 seats arranged back-to-back.

Scenes from the takeover of Beggar’s Bush Barracks and possession of former R.I.C. vehicles. Irish Independent, 2 February 1922.

Posted in: British Army, Irish Defence Forces, Irish Provisional Government, Free State and National Army, Irish Republican Army

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