Ballykinlar (also Ballykinler) Camp started life as a firing range for the 5th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles as they trained for the war in South Africa, fighting the Boers. At the time they were garrisoned in Downpatrick, 8 miles away, and the coastal land at Ballykinlar offered good real estate for musketry practice. For the most part in the early days, accommodation was tented, often with a canvas camp being established in the summer months for the cycle of soldiers coming through. There would most likely have been wells sunk and possibly even latrine huts established on site. However, early accounts recall a condenser being used for the desalination of sea water as no fresh water was initially found.
It was at the time of the First World War when the camp surged once again, and with four new Battalions of the Royal Irish Rifles to train, each at 1,000 men each. With the new conflict abroad, it was time to construct more appropriate accommodation for the influx of new recruits. The first in what would be a vast series of corrugated iron huts began to be constructed.
Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the seaLyrics from a traditional Irish folk song
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The header image was scanned from a postcard posted in 1906 and depicts a group of young soldiers in their tented camp. It is a good insight into daily life, we can see a brush as well as an older soldier holding a mallet. The soldier in the centre of the photograph is about to be shaved, perhaps for his first time judging by his age, and the other soldiers are wearing a mixture of uniform in varying degrees of order!
All postcards are scanned from the authors personal collection of original real photographic postcards. They are a great source of information relating to camps that often have no physical evidence remaining. Individual postcards can be bought online for between £2 and £20.