Ballycanew RIC barracks sabotaged

1905 ordinance survey map of Ballycanew village with location of the barracks visible opposite the school.

In the early morning of the 13th of May 1920 a dwelling house occupied by Henry Tomkins, which was formerly the village’s RIC barracks, was sabotaged. The Irish Times reported that 20 armed men gained entry into the premises, causing much destruction, breaking windows, doors, the stairway, ceilings and roof. A gun found inside was taken away also. Patrick Ronan in his witness statement to the bureau of military history states the Ferns company of the IRA were responsible.

Picture taken of the former barracks after it had been sabotaged. Note the holes in the roof and damage to the windows (Freemans Journal , 20th May, p6)

Ballycanew barracks had been vacated by the police for some time before the 13th of May. It was one of many vacated or closed barracks in the county that were burned or sabotaged so they could not be reoccupied. This reduced the capabilities of the British authorities in those areas, as they had now lost buildings in which they could have placed garrisons of men. It had the opposite effect for the IRA however as it allowed them more freedom to operate without a military or police presence in the area. Although Ballycanew barracks was closed the IRA were likely fearful that it maybe reoccupied by the newly arrived black and tans, brought in to reinforce the RIC.

Late 19th/early 20th century photo of Ballycanew Barracks (middle building with railings). Note the three police officers standing outside and the RIC emblem just visible above the front door. (Credit: National Library of Ireland, Laurence Collection)

The barracks building still stands in Ballycanew today and has remained much the same since the war of independence period.

The former RIC barracks in Ballycanew as it looks today (Google Street View)

Sources

Bureau of Military History Statement, Patrick Ronan #1157

Irish Times, 14th may 1920, p5

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