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FEBRUARY 2nd, 1922: Handover of Beggar's Bush barracks

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  • FEBRUARY 2nd, 1922: Handover of Beggar's Bush barracks

    FEBRUARY 2nd, 1922: Handover of Beggar's Bush barracks

    FROM THE ARCHIVES: Following the adoption of the Treaty by the Dáil in early January 1922, British forces began withdrawing from Ireland and handing over their barracks to the new Free State Army. This description of the handover by the Auxiliaries of Beggar’s Bush barracks in Ballsbridge, Dublin appeared in today’s newspaper that year. JOE JOYCE

    Possession was taken yesterday of Beggar’s Bush barracks, Dublin, by a detachment of the Irish Republican Army, whose members appeared for the first time in the streets of the city in their new uniform.

    The incident was made the occasion of a popular demonstration, crowds assembling in the centre of the city and greeting the troops with much enthusiasm.

    From a spectacular point of view the taking over of the barracks was more impressive than the ‘‘surrender’’ of Dublin Castle. The announcement that the new Irish Army would march through the city on its way to Beggar’s Bush naturally aroused the interest of citizens of all classes, and early in the afternoon Dame Street and College Green were crowded with spectators. There was some disappointment when it was learned that the number would be confined to about 15 officers and men. As a matter of fact, it comprised of three officers and 43 men, who had arrived in the forenoon at the Phoenix Park, from Celbridge. They were drawn from various battalions in the Co Dublin district, and were known as ‘‘The Guards,’’ or ‘‘De V’s Own’.’

    As they left the park, under the command of Captain Daly, and headed by a piper’s band, they presented a smart appearance in their new greyish-green uniform, with dark blue facings, Sam Browne belts, and brown leather leggings: they were fully armed with rifles and burnished bayonets.

    Their passage along the Quays evoked numerous cheers, which increased in volume as they turned across the river towards the City Hall [the home of the new Free State government], where a dense crowd awaited their arrival. The guard there turned out and came to the salute. Messrs Griffith, Collins, and other Ministers stood on the steps and saluted as the detachment, in close formation, passed and answered the command of ‘‘Eyes Right”.

    There were other demonstrations, not less cordial, along the route at Haddington Road, where the crowd was particularly dense outside the barracks, which were held by a small guard of Dublin Metropolitan Police.

    The departure of the remnants of the Auxiliary Division from the barracks by motor lorries aroused some good-humoured banter and kept the crowd in high spirits. James McMahon, Under Secretary, and Mr Cope, Assistant Under Secretary for Ireland, inspected the various departments, in which artisans were busy preparing quarters for the newcomers. The commissariat was also being looked after.

    Shortly after 3 o’clock the detachment marched into the barrack square, and drew up in front of the Orderly building, the band taking up a position at the right rear. Richard Mulcahy, Minister of Defence, dressed in Commandant’s uniform, and accompanied by Eoin O’Duffy, Chief of Staff, inspected the men, and presented Captain Daly with a standard – a large tricolour flag.

    Mr Mulcahy, in making the presentation, said that the entry of that small band into possession of these buildings was an event of which they could not at present estimate the importance. He congratulated them individually upon taking part in that work, as many of them had been individually responsible for that achievement. They had been what they might call first-trench men.
    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead