The Curragh Camp (Irish: Campa an Churraigh) is an army base and military college located in The Curragh, Ireland. It is the main training centre for the Irish Army.
The Curragh has historically been a military assembly area due to the wide expanse of plain. Henry Harvey in 1599, during the Elizabethan wars noted 'A better place for the deploying of an Army I never beheld.' However, the Curragh's history goes further back being mentioned in The Annals of the Four Masters where Laeghaire Lore, the king of Ireland was slain on the Curragh by Cobhthach Cael Breagh.
Richard Talbot, 1st Earl of Tyrconnel chose the Curragh as a muster point for the cause of James II in the Glorious Revolution). In 1783, a review of the Volunteers raised to assist in the defence of the country while England was at war with America held on the Curragh attracted upwards of 50,000 spectators.
There were numerous training camps organised on the Curragh in the nineteenth century including the training of militia to defend the country during the Napoleonic Wars. However, the first permanent military structures were built in 1855 by British soldiers preparing for the Crimean War. These structures were wooden in character but the camp did have its own post-office, fire station, ten barracks, two churches, a water pumping station, court house and a clock tower. In 1879 the first of the "modern" barracks (Beresford Barracks) was built at the camp, and six new barracks were subsequently constructed through the turn of the century. The names of the barracks' that were built by the British Army were Ponsonby Bks, Stewart Bks, A.S.C Bks, Engineer Bks, Gough Bks and Keane Bks.
In the following decade Queen Victoria visited to inspect troops, and as her son (Edward VII the then Prince of Wales) was serving at the camp. A great troop review was held for the visit of the Queen and an album of the occasion can be found in the Royal Archive at Windsor.
By the end of the century the Camp became a divisional headquarters and soldiers were trained there for fighting in the Boer War.
The Camp, like many military garrisons in Ireland at the time, had a particular problem with prostitution and was mentioned in the Contagious Disease Acts, which allowed the authorities to stop and arrest women if they suspected them of being prostitutes.
In the Furze covered areas surrounding the camp women, mainly prostitutes, set up camp in what were known as 'nests'. These women became known as the wrens. Their story gained prominence in a series of articles in the Pall Mall Gazette by the English journalist James Greenwood in 1867. His book The Seven Curses of London also contains a chapter on the Wrens.
The problem of sexually transmitted diseases due to the prevalence of prostitution and men willing to partake in their services can be seen by the numbers reporting with gonorrhea in the military hospital in the 1911 Census.
After the Irish War of Independence (21 January 1919 - 11 July 1921) the British Army handed over the Curragh Camp to the Irish Army.
Information sourced from Wikipedia.
Access to the military camp remains highly restricted but members of the public can gain entry to areas that are located along the main road which divides the camp. These areas include the church, the post office, shops and the military museum. Admission to the museum is free and visitors are taken through the history of the Curragh Camp dating back to it's construction by the British. Military uniforms, old and new, are on display alongside old Irish military vehicles.
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