The construction of a barracks on Blackhorse Avenue began in 1888 and took approximately 4 years to finish. It was originally named Marlborough Barracks and housed approximately 900 horses of the British forces. The barracks was home to several different British units throughout it’s history but was primarily for Cavalry units.
Marlborough Barracks was handed over to the Irish Free State army in 1922 and retained it’s name until 1926 at which point it was renamed McKee Barracks. This renaming was to honour Dick McKee from Finglas, Dublin.
Richard “Dick” McKee (Irish name Risteárd Mac Aoidh; 4 April 1893 – 21 November 1920) was a prominent member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). He was also friend to some senior members in the republican movement, including Éamon de Valera, Austin Stack and Michael Collins. Along with Peadar Clancy and Conor Clune, he was killed by his captors in Dublin Castle on Sunday, 21 November 1920, a day known as Bloody Sunday that also saw the killing of a network of British spies by the “Squad” unit of the Irish Republican Army and the killing of 14 people in Croke Park by British soldiers and police.
McKee joined the Volunteers in 1913, serving in G Company, Second Battalion of the Dublin Brigade. He served in the 1916 Rising in Jacob’s Factory, under the command of Thomas MacDonagh. McKee was later incarcerated by the Crown forces in Knutsford gaol and at the Frongoch internment camp in Wales.
McKee was promoted within the IRA shortly after his release. He became Company Captain and then Commandant of the Second Battalion, eventually being placed as Brigadier of the Army’s Dublin Brigade. He was also active as an ex-officio member of IRA General Head Quarter’s Staff – which included Collins, Richard Mulcahy and Russell. He was a prime innovator in the formation of the flying columns along with Mulcahy and Collins. He ranked as Director of Training for this duration, though he was jailed again as a political prisoner in Dundalk Jail, in 1918.
McKee was betrayed to Crown forces by an ex-British Army soldier, James “Shankers” Ryan, and captured at Sean Fitzpatrick’s before Bloody Sunday by the Royal Irish Constabulary. (In retaliation, on February 5, 1921, an IRA squad led by Bill Stapleton walked into Hynes’ pub in Gloucester Place and shot Ryan dead.)
Brought to Dublin Castle he was tortured under interrogation with Peadar Clancy and Conor Clune from County Clare. The three would later be shot on 21 November 1920. The official account was that he and the other men with him were shot while “trying to escape”. This account has been widely disputed.