The Barracks, Eglinton Street

In 1640, on the site of this barracks, there was a three storey slated house to the front, and a one storey thatched house to the back. It was owned by Oliver Dean, an Irish papist. In 1657 it was owned by John Peters, an English Protestant, and was called Peter’s Plot.

The police barracks was built here in 1883. It was a red brick building with a facade of five bays and three storeys and was adjacent to the Lion’s Tower.

During the War of Independence it was occupied by the Black and Tans. In July 1922, they set fire to it as the following Galway Observer reported:

“On Sunday morning last the citizens of Galway were alarmed to hear that the Eglinton Street Barracks were ablaze if not burnt down, and later were astonished to hear the Renmore Barracks and the Naval Base at the docks were gutted.

“The fire at the barracks began about 12 o’clock and about half a dozen men who occupied them were seen in the street looking on. Bystanders saw this was no accidental fire but premeditated.

Women and children were seen looting at the early stages of the fire which was then confined to the private residence. The fire had a good hold of this part of the building when the town steward came on the scene. He got a short length of hose attached to a hydrant and a man directed a small stream of water on the blaze but it was quite useless.

“From the residence, the flames soon spread to the top storey of the barracks and from room to room and window to window. The top storey was supplied with some combustible material and this led a ready aid to the devouring element. While there appeared a raging furnace inside the windows on the top storey the burning embers could be heard coming down, crushing into the floors of the second storey, with an odd crash on the ground floor, showing that the second floors were giving away very quickly. It was only on the uppermost floor that it appeared the inflammable liquid was spread and nothing could be more regular or systematic as the way the flames leapt from one window to the other. Had the wind been blowing across the street, it is fearful to contemplate where the fire would stop. There was nothing to save Mr Forde’s shop at the corner of Mary Street or the house adjoining. The houses adjoining the barracks in Eyre Street would be in similar jeopardy.

“It was curious how few people were about, no more than a score or so assembled in Mary Street and about the same number in Eglinton Street, and all men.

“Dominick Street police station was spared by the Executive troops who had occupied it because of the fact that it was private property and a fire started there would endanger the entire street and almost certainly result in the burning down of Mrs Caulfield’s sweet shop and tobacconists next door.”

The barracks was subsequently rebuilt and taken over by the new Garda force. In February 1986, it was vacated and the Garda moved headquarters to Mill Street.

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