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Cathal Brugha Barracks

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Cathal Brugha Barracks used to be known as Portobello Barracks as it was built in a part of Rathmines called Portobello. The barracks, which opened in 1815 was originally designed as a cavalry barracks.

This video is designed as a resource for primary and post-primary students up to Junior Certificate.

Cathal Brugha Barracks

Cathal Brugha Barracks used to be known as “Portobello Barracks” as it was built in a part of Rathmines called Portobello.

The building of Portobello Barracks began in 1810 and was finished in 1815.

The barracks was designed as a cavalry barracks, which means it was designed for small army units which would use horses or some form of transport. More land was purchased and a Church was added in 1842, and a canteen in 1868. In 1888 the cavalry left for McKee Barracks in Cabra.

As you can imagine there were many incidents at the barracks. Here are some interesting facts:


In 1817, William Windham Saddler made a successful flight in a hot air balloon from the barracks ground to Holyhead in Wales.

On 17th March, 1916, the Countess of Limerick gave shamrock to the troops in Portobello Barracks. During the 1916 Rising and the Irish War of Independence British troops from the barracks were involved in actions around Dublin. The worst of these was when three people were shot without trial in the barracks guardroom. They were Mr Dickinson, Mr McIntyre and Mr Sheehy Skeffington. Captain Colthurt who ordered the shooting was judged to be insane at his trial. He spent eighteen months in Broadmore Prison in England. On 18th May 1922, Irish Troops took over Portobello barracks.

It became the National Army’s Headquarters under Michael Collins. Michael Collins was a famous Irish leader. The barracks hospital became Michael Collins home. On 12th August 1922, he left the barracks for the last time to tour the South of Ireland. He was killed on August 22nd 1922.

On 9th May 1952, Portobello Barracks had its name changed to Cathal Brugha Barracks. It was called after Cathal Brugha, who was a leader during the 1916 Rising, and was Minister for Defence in the First Dáil. He lived nearby for a time.

Cathal Brugha Barracks is still a working barracks today. It now has a military archive about the defence forces in Ireland. An archive is a collection of records and information.

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