McGee Barracks & the Lock Hospital
THE MILITARY BARRACKS AND LOCK HOSPITAL –
It was originally erected c.1901 to house 1,100 men and 600 horses (6 batteries of Royal Field Artillery). After the establishment of the Irish Free State a new police force was set up in February 1922 and Kildare Barracks became, for a time, the Training Depot for the new Civic Guard. This resulted in the Kildare Mutiny when it appeared that ex-RIC men were being favoured. Michael Collins had to personally intervene to calm things down. The Civic Guard became An Gardaí Siochána in 1923 and the depot returned to Dublin.
The Artillery Corps occupied the barracks in 1925. Magee Barracks, which opened in 1938, was the first military barracks constructed under the Irish Free State and was named after Gunner Magee, one of the rebel heroes of the Battle of Ballinamuck in 1798.
The barracks closed in 1998 and the force moved to the Curragh Camp. Magee was for a time a home to Kosovar refugees but plans for major re-development have failed; it has been heavily vandalised in recent years.
The Lock Hospital
This was located on the north side of Curragh Road/Hospital Street (through the main gates of the later Magee Barracks on the left; the whole site was formerly known as Broadhook Farm). The Hospital was erected by the War Department at a cost of £14,000 for the treatment of contagious diseases; particularly to deal with the problem of the ‘ Curragh Wrens ’, the ‘ fallen women ’ who lived in awful conditions in the furze on the Curragh Plains. These women had been abandoned to their fate by Camp soldiers or, like other prostitutes, had attached themselves to large military encampments like those at the Curragh and Newbridge. Generally they were seen as a scourge in the locality and cruelly treated. The Lock Hospital was administered by the Surgeon from the County Infirmary. It closed in 1887 but gave its name to ‘ Hospital Street. ’ When the Military Barracks was built the buildings were incorporated into the fabric of the Barracks.
Reposted Courtesy of Kildare Footprints (2012)