Galway was always an important military centre for the British Army and an important recruiting centre for them as well. Well could the Imperialist Poet, Rudyard Kipling write:
"There were lads from Galway, Louth and Meath who went to their deaths with a joke in their teeth"
'The Fort of Galway' was the original fortification. By the 19th century there were two Military Barracks in town, the Castle Barracks and the Shambles Barracks. In 1852, the War Department bought lands at Renmore which were strategically important. In 1880, they built Renmore Barracks which would become the main depot of the Royal Irish Fusiliers and later the Connaught Rangers.
The 1916 Rising fizzled out in Galway after a few engagements, and the general feeling in Renmore was that it was only a brush fire. Shortly afterwards however a light cruiser arrived in the bay and a contingent of Munster Fusiliers arrived "with machine guns" giving the city a more martial appearance. Renmore also featured during the Black and Tan War.
In February 1922 a local battalion of Republicans, under the command of Captain Sean Broderick took over the barracks as the British Army moved out. The first guard mounted in the barracks was from 4th Battalion, 2nd Brigade of the I.R.A. under Sergeant Thomas Kelly. Part of the barracks, mostly the officers' quarters, was burnt when a dispute occurred between the two sides of the I.R.A. and the anti-Treaty side evacuated the smouldering ruins. A short time later the National Army took possession.
In 1936, the barracks was fully rebuilt by H. McNally & Company of Market Street and in 1952 it was renamed Dun Ni Mhaoilíosa after the 1916 Galway leader Liam Mellows. In more recent times the barracks has been expanded with the building of a block for Cadets from the Military College who are doing various courses in University. The first group of cadets graduated in 1972.
Since 1924, Renmore has been the headquarters of An Céad Cath - an Irish speaking battalion of the Army. It was thought at the time that it would be one of the great power houses in reviving the Irish language in the West of Ireland.
Our photograph today was taken c.1900, from the Railway Line, and was kindly given to us by the National Library. In the 1950's they used to have military tattoos on the lands where the tents are in this picture