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Interview: Richmond Site Restoration Coordinator

richmond barracks

Interview: Richmond Site Restoration Coordinator 

We all know next year will be a very significant year for Ireland historically when the country celebrates the Centenary of Easter Rising. Two buildings dating back from what was Richmond Barracks, namely the gymnasium and surviving classroom (from its days as a school) will be hosting events to join in these celebrations.

So far, it has been suggested, that on the 8th March 2016 there will be events held to commemorate the 77 women held in Richmond Barracks and on the 2nd May 2016 events will take place to commemorate the Courts Martial which took place in the Barracks.

There will be a programme of events to reflect the full history of Richmond Barracks available, but it is still under discussion. Richmond Barracks were not only the place where the rebels of 1916 were housed but also served as a British military barracks, a social housing facility and a school which closed its doors in 2006/2007.

Speaking to Martin McDonagh, the Project Co-ordinator at Dublin City Council, he said: “The development will consist of a multi use facility incorporating a Garden, exhibition, heritage, art, educational and archive spaces. Dublin City Council welcomes the whole redevelopment because it will have a very positive impact within the local community and in an area so rich in history it will now have a place to exhibit that history. It also provides an opportunity to look at the barracks setting within the wider community/service provider context. The development has the potential to revitalise the area and will compliment the recently completed HSE Primary Care Unit and Thornton Heights. It may also prove to be the stimulus for regeneration of wider area.”

Mr. McDonagh also said about the costs involved with this project: “The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht have committed €3.5 million to the development of Richmond Barracks.”

There will also be some opportunities arising for local unemployed persons through a tourism course to provide training to aid the project and will be funded by Dublin City Council. It is hoped that Kilmainham Gaol and other service providers, such as the Graveyard Commission, Memorial War Gardens and Collins’ Barracks, will link in with the project.

As far as the community’s involvement with the celebration goes, an advisory committee was established almost a year ago with representatives from the various stakeholders (including local community representatives) and this group meets on a monthly basis.

A community initiative was developed with locally based groups to provide training in tourism. The course will aim to provide participants with the knowledge, skill, and practical experience necessary to pursue a successful career in the Tourism and Heritage industry. From August 2015 to May 2016 classes will be delivered in the ICFE for potential candidates who are interested to pursue a career in tourism. There will be a mixture of delivery methods including theory classes, day trips, practical classes and guest lectures. For more information on this course that will be taking in 20 participants, you can go to the Dublin City Council’s official website.

The official opening for the new restored barracks is scheduled for 2nd May 2016.

Currently the focus of the Dublin City Council is to get the project construction works underway and events progressed. In relation to future employment on completion off the project, Mr. McDonagh further stated: “A parallel process is also currently being advanced to consider how best the facility can be managed in a sustainable manner on completion of the works.”


Proposed changes and additions to the present structures

There will be a new glazed single-storey link between both buildings built. The classroom building will be extended into a glazed single-storey conservatory and the octagonal lantern structure to the roof of the gymnasium will be re-instated. The HSE Primary Care Unit, Thornton Heights and other existing public services will be connected.

A formal enclosed garden to the east with a planted perimeter has been proposed with a small walled kitchen garden with ancillary structures including a glasshouse, potting sheds and a boiler room. The existing road will be realigned and a new paved forecourt to the front/west to calm the traffic has been suggested. The entrance will be moved to the south to make access easier for visitors.

The proposed development will serve as an exhibition centre and archive for national and local history, a visitor centre including a tearoom and an educational and community resource.

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