The barracks and army ordnance buildings of Clancy Barracks are located on the south side of the River Liffy in Dublin. Constructed in around 1798 and originally known as Islandbridge (Island Bridge) Barracks, the site was renamed in 1942 after Peader Clancy killed during the War of Independence in 1920. The barracks remained in Irish Defence Force (IDF) possession until its sale on 14 June 2001 as part of an estate disposal scheme in which six barracks were sold. I visited the site in 2010; by which time around half of the barracks had been demolished and redeveloped, and what remained was the camp around Upper Square (to the south) and Cambridge Square (middle camp).
By 1847, Ireland had 138 barracks; thirty five constructed before 1791, sixty eight between 1791 and 1815, and sixteen after 1815. The driving factor between the late C18 and early C19 was the Napoleonic wars and the threat posed by France to the British Empire. In “A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837,” it is noted that the Island Bridge Barracks for artillery are adapted for 23 Officers, 547 soldiers, 185 horses, and contain a 48-bed hospital (Library Ireland).
Following independence in 1922, British military forces started a withdrawal from Ireland, and the newly established Irish Defence Forces took on the task of reforming and establishing themselves in the existing infrastructure. Islandbridge Barracks was taken over on 15 December 1922, and on 23 March 1923, the Irish Defence Forces Artillery Corps was formed at Islandbridge Barracks. The development of the barracks can be tracked by existing maps, plans and drawings available in public records and the National Archive of Ireland:
- 1797 – Barracks does not feature on map of Dublin (view)
- 1798 – Initial artillery barracks constructed (reference)
- 1803 – As an outlying military barracks, Islandbridge was reconnoitred by Irish rebels with a view to raiding it (reference)
- 1831 – Map of Dublin shows Artillery Barracks (view)
- 1837 – Barracks now in use for cavalry
- 1853 – Islandbridge labelled as Artillery Barracks in 1853 map of Dublin (view)
- May/June 1860 – Proposal to construct married soldiers’ quarters
- January 1898 – Barracks starts conversion to Army Ordnance Depot
- 31 October 1902 – Plans show barracks and reference to “Old Riding School”
- January 1903 – Plans show Royal Engineers and Army Ordnance Disposal offices and accommodation
- 1910 – Large clothing store constructed
- 23 march 1923 – IDF Artillery Corps formed at Islandbridge
- 1942 – Islandbridge Barracks renamed Clancy Barracks
- 1980 – Development of the barracks, demolition of defunct buildings and new buildings constructed
- 14 June 2001 – IDF to sell Clancy Barracks
Maps & Plans
Derived exclusively from the Defence Forces Ireland Military Archive, Maps, Plans and Drawings Collection, a comprehensive picture can be built of the development of Islandbridge Barracks. The images, maps and plans are taken primarily from this archive, or are otherwise credited.
- 1837 – 23 Officers, 547 soldiers, 185 horses, and contain a 48-bed hospital
- 1904 – 196 unmarried soldiers, 37 married soldiers, 115 horses
- 1914 – 189 unmarried soldiers, 24 married soldiers, 125 horses
- 1939 – 300 soldiers, 98 NCOs
- 1942 – (Infantry) 2 Officers, 189 unmarried soldiers, 24 married soldiers, 125 horses
I visited the site in the summer of 2010 when I was working in Dublin, and on site. I had almost unrestricted access to the remaining barracks, and recorded what I could, but 8 years later writing this article there is so much more I would liked to have visited.
Refurbishment of the listed elements of the site seems to have been undertaken respectfully, and from what I can ascertain as of March 2018, the majority of the Islandbridge / Clancy Barracks site has been redeveloped, perhaps with the exception of the Upper Square. Below are some open source images from the developers Kennedy Wilson and estate agents showing a few of the restored and developed buildings.