Enoch Trevor Owen.

Enoch Trevor Owen architect who designed The Barracks, was born in Shropshire and brought up in Liverpool where his father was a shopkeeper. He was in private practice in England before joining The Irish Board of Works as a drawing clerk in 1860. From 1863 he was effectively the Board’s chief designer, replacing James Higgins Owen who moved into administration. James had succeeded Jacob Owen as chief designer. Whether Enoch Trevor Owen was related to Jacob Owen is unclear.

After the Fenian Rising in 1867, the Board took immediate steps to design new police stations capable of defence. However, these were not publicly announced until January 1870 when perspectives of a “sketch design for a second class Royal Irish Constabulary Barrack’, devised, by the two Owens and bearing the date February 1868, were published in The Irish Builder. Between 1869 72 a dozen barracks of varying sizes and degrees of fortification were built. No two were alike. Amon liest were Ballyduff (1869-70) and Errismore(1870-71), in County Galway, each designed to house a head constable and five men. Both had diagonally opposed twin towers, designed to provide raking fire along all four walls and to protect the front and back entrances. Larger and more elaborate baronial barracks were built in Cahersiveen (1871-72, burnt 1922, rebuilt 1991-96), County Kerry.

Rochfortbridge (1872, destroyed), County Westmeath and Skibbereen(1871, destroyed), County Cork. In addition five fortified coastguard stations were erected in 1869/70 before the whole programme was abruptly terminated by the Treasury in 1872, following a confidential report, compiled by a committee chaired by the Marquess of Lansdowne. It considered that “the expense might be greatly reduced if there were less attempt at architectural display”… the prevalent policy of making those buildings defensible, as to which we offer no opinion, certainly adds to their cost, but it is a matter for consideration whether this might not be done more cheaply than with machicolated. towers. It is hard to understand too, why, if a common dwelling house with iron shutters be considered sufficient in the county of Westmeath, fortified castles should be required in such towns as Killarney and Dungannon.