Some time after midnight, on Thursday night, the 5th of August 1920 the New Ross Standard reports that an explosion was heard coming from Fethard RIC barracks which was followed by a blaze. The following morning ‘… it (the barracks) was completely burned down, practically nothing being left but the walls.’ The building had been vacated by the police several weeks before.
Michael Conway, who was a survivor of the Saltmills explosion, described the burning of Fethard barracks in his withness statement to the Bureau of Military History and it offers an explanation for the explosion reported to have been heard in Fethard on the night. He states:
‘We were instructed to destroy R.I.C. Barracks which the police had vacated. The first one we destroyed was at Tintern; the second was at Fethard-on-Sea where we tested our first bombs made out of the boxes of cart-wheels. They proved to be most successful. During this operation I got a bad fright. When we were sprinkling the floors and woodwork of the barracks with petrol I went Into the day-room with two others. Then an explosion took place inside the barracks. The door banged and locked. I had the bombs in my coat pocket. As luck happened, I was able to kick out the door panels with my foot and got out on to the road. The barracks by this time was in flames. I threw off my coat as I felt the heat on my back. I then threw the bombs through the top windows into the blazing barracks. They exploded and blew the roof completely off the barracks.’ (Bureau of Military History Witness Statement: Michael Conway (IRA), Ballycullane, Co.Wexford. #1509)
The Site Today
The ruins of Fethard barracks can still be seen along the main street today, in good condition with the walls remaining to full height.
Bureau of Military History Witness Statement: Michael Conway (IRA), Ballycullane, Co.Wexford. #1509
New Ross Standard, Friday 6th August 1920, p5
South Wexford Brigade Activity Reports