On midnight, Saturday the 17th of April 1920 the New Ross Standard newspaper reports that people living in the vicinity of Camolin barracks were awoken to the sound of ‘…what appeared to be the noise of a crowbar playing on the cast iron entrance door of the police station.’ A number of men were seen, around the barracks, attempting to gain entry. After about thirty minutes the noise stopped and then, shortly after, the building was ablaze. A ‘…plentiful supply of petroleum oil (petrol)’ had been used in the burning. The fire left the building totally demolished with only the bare walls remaining, together with a small portion of the roof adjoining the western gable. The burning was not sporadic, but instead well planned as up to 30 men are reported to have took part. Scouts kepth guard on the village and the roads leading into Camolin. The group of men is reported to have left by two in the morning. The brigade activity reports state that the camolin company of the IRA were responsible for the burning.
The burning of Camolin barracks was only one of many that were destroyed during 1920. Others, including Camolin, had been vacated the previous year with police officers transferred to more urban barracks like Gorey as many rural stations were considered vulnerable to attack. Michael Kirwan, a member of the north Wexford IRA, states in his witness statement that general headquarters had called for the burning of all abandoned barracks in the Brigade (north Wexford) area. This tactic was to deny the authorities any opportunity to reoccupy the buidings while also sending out a message of defiance at the same time. The barracks was located on the Ferns side of Camolin where there is a slight bend in the road. This location, on the bend, ensured a vantage point in both direction towards Gorey and Ferns. It was a two story, presumably stone built building whose construction would have offered some comfort in an attack. Sometime later it was repaired as it now serves as a private residence.
New Ross Standard April 23rd 1920
Michael Kirwan IRA withness statement #1175
Blog Image: This is a picture of the barracks as it looks today and is a private residence. Image taken from google street view.