The Curragh - A Living History   


The Curragh History

It is an historical military assembly and training area. Its ancient name of ‘CUIRREACH LIFE’ would suggest that at one time it extended to the banks of the River Liffey. In pre-Christian times it was the site of Aonach Life, a gathering of all the people of the Kingdom of Leinster.
The Danes passed along the plains on more than one occasion, as they raided and plundered the monasteries of Kildare. The Curragh was the place chosen by Richard Talbot, Earl of Tyreconnell to prepare his Army for the cause of James II. 
The end of the 18th Century saw the 1798 Rebellion. During this rebellion at the Gibbet Rath (near the present Ammunition Depot), 350 rebels were massacred by the forces of General Duff. 
Wellington passed through the Curragh on his way to the peninsular wars.
It was the Crimean War (1855-1856) which lead to the construction of the first permanent camp at the Curragh while in the early 1900’s the present structure of the camp began to appear.

Queen Victoria Review Troops in 1861

Queen Victoria visited the Curragh in 1861 to visit her son the Prince of Wales (Edward VII), who was serving in the Curragh and to inspect troops. 

The New Curragh Camp -1879 Onwards
Beresford Barracks was the first section of the Curragh to be rebuilt, this occurred in 1879. The present red bricked camp emerged about the turn of the century. 

When completed, seven new barracks made up the camp and these barracks were named, from West to East, as follows

Ponsonby Barracks now Plunkett Barracks.
Stewart Barracks now Connolly Barracks. 
Beresford Barracks now Ceannt Barracks
A.S.C. Barracks now Clarke Barracks. 
Engineer Barracks now MacDermott Barracks. 
Gough Barracks now MacDonagh Barracks
Keane Barracks now Pearse Barracks. 

The camp moved forward into the 20th century and in March, 1914, the calm and routine peacetime soldiering was suddenly disrupted by an event to be known in history as “The Curragh Incident.” 

Some short distance NORTH-WEST of Gibbet Rath and close to the main NEWBRIDGE-KILDARE road, there are to be seen traces of the foundations of buildings of the Rath Internment Camp which was established in 1921 by the British to house 1,200-1,500 Irish Volunteer prisoners. The interment camp was used to intern republican prisoners during the civil war in the early 1920's, thereafter, to intern republicans in the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's as required. It was also used to intern German and Allied airmen during World War II who enjoyed a very benign camp regime.

German Internees
German Internees


The Raising of the Tri Color on the Curragh

The handover of the Curragh Camp to the Army of the Free State took place at 10 o’clock on Tuesday, May 16 1922 when the camp was handed over to a party of Irish troops commanded by Lt Gen O’Connell. 

On Monday evening the Union Flag was lowered for the last time. At 12 o’clock, noon, on the Tuesday, Lt Gen O’Connell climbed the Water Tower and hoisted the first Tricolour to fly over the Curragh Camp. By tradition the British army had cut down the flagpole requiring the Irish officers to physically hold the Flagpole while the Tricolour was raised. During the period since 1922 the Union Flag was cared for by the Stokes family who presented the flag to the GOC Curragh in 1997. Both the Union Flag and the Tricolour , which measures 10’ x 18’ are now preserved in the DFTC. 



It was the Crimean War (1855-1856) which lead to the construction of the first permanent camp at the Curragh while in the early 1900’s the present structure of the camp began to appear.








Defence Forces Training Centre 
Curragh Camp
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