THE BARRACKS- FROM ITS PAST TO ITS PRESENT
The Barracks was constructed between 1870 and 1875 as an RIC Barracks in order to maintain law and order in Cahersiveen and to protect the telegraphic cable link between Europe and America which had been laid in 1866. It was designed by the architect, Enoch Trevor-Owen in a Schloss style of architecture which was popular at the time. The Barracks remained an important police station up to The Irish Civil War. During this period Cahersiveen was seen as a republican stronghold and with The Free State Army encroaching, the residents of the town did not want such a commanding building falling into the hands of the army so The Barracks was destroyed by fire on the 24th August 1922.
As the floors and ceilings were constructed with timber the building burnt readily and remained as a shell until 1991. Acard, a community development group was formed in 1990 with its aim of redeveloping the town to create sustainable employment in the area which at the time was being ravaged by the effects of recession and emigration. Acard’s first flagship project was to rebuild The Barracks and restore the building to its former glory and open it as a Heritage Centre.
Acard had the foresight to see The Barracks development as a catalyst to redevelop the town and to preserve its historical and heritage status. The mammoth task of restoring The Barracks commenced in 1991 and was completed in 1996 when The Barracks was officially reopened. Cahersiveen has a wealth of history going back to the stone fort of Sarah coming through the tragic period of the famine, The Fenian Rising, the Civil War and right up to the present day. Some of this historical heritage is displayed in The Barracks today and the whole area has many, many sites of historical importance. In 2013, Acard carried out extensive works on The Barracks. This work involved the external protection of the building from the weather and internally the displays have been fully refreshed to showcase The Royal Irish Constabulary,
The Fenians, The Barracks Story and its architectural history. Cahersiveen is rightly proud of its most famous son Daniel O’ Connell so the life and career of The Liberator is something we can all be proud of and this can be found in this great building. The Barracks is and will remain a very important building in the landscape of Cahersiveen. Acard intend further developing this building to encompass temporary displays about our history and heritage and is fully commit-ted to the building to generate employment in the area both directly and indirectly. Tourists and locals alike will find The Barracks and the locality has a far more interesting history than they would have believed.