There are still hopes that a new home might be found in Mullingar for some items from the Columb Barracks military museum, in spite of reports that the collection is to be moved to Athlone.
The Department of Defence confirmed this week that the museum collection will be moved to Custume Barracks in Athlone, as the majority of the artefacts are associated with the history of the 4th Field Artillery Regiment. The collection is to be moved before the March 30 deadline for the transfer of troops from Mullingar to Athlone.
A spokesperson for the Department of Defence added that some artefacts which had been donated by private individuals had already been returned to them.
“It is intended to make provision to house the museum in a suitable location in Custume Barracks, Athlone, which will be the new location for the 4th Field Artillery Regiment. Approximately 90 per cent of the museum artefacts belong to the Defence Forces; the remaining artefacts belong to private individuals of which some, at the request of individuals, have been returned to them,” said the spokesperson.
However a campaign is under way in Mullingar to ensure that the military museum, or at least some of its collection, remains in Mullingar. Cllr Ken Glynn has a motion listed for next Monday’s Mullingar Area meeting calling on the council to take steps to prevent the museum being moved to Athlone.
Historian Cllr Ruth Illingworth says it would be a shame to see the collection taken away from Mullingar, and that she hoped there would be room for discussion.
“We are still trying to see if we can keep the photos and items specific to Mullingar in the town. If we can’t keep all the collection, if we could at least keep these items. Many of the exhibits, particularly a lot of the medals, were donated locally.
“We could look for another location for the museum, or see if the Department of Defence would allow us to keep the museum, garrison church, and buildings on the north-east side of the barracks. There are quite a lot of significant items which we would like to keep in Mullingar, and it would be a shame to see the museum collection broken apart.
“I would imagine if items are to be moved to Athlone, that local people might try to get their items back, as when they are in Mullingar they are able to go in and see them any time.
“The present museum is only open since 2009, and it is sad that only two and a half years later it is going again.”
Items in the military museum collection include weapons dating back to the 18th century, medals from various military campaigns including World War I medals, a variety of military uniforms dating back to the 1940s, flags from various UN operations, a collection of maps, radio sets used in the 1940s and 50s, mortar and guns used in the 1960s in the Congo, and collections of items relating to the 1798 Rebellion and the War of Independence.