In addition to the interactive exhibition, the site also houses a new Tea Room and landscaped garden area. Tours of Richmond Barracks will incorporate Goldenbridge Cemetery, adjacent to the Barracks, which opens to the public for the first time.
The leaders of the Irish revolution, along with over 3000 Irish rebels, were held in Richmond Barracks in the aftermath of the 1916 Rebellion before they were sentenced. The opening event took place in the gymnasium where the rebels were sorted and the leaders identified. Today’s date coincides with the centenary of the first courts martial of the Rising leaders that took place in Richmond Barracks, in the immediate aftermath of the Easter Rising 1916. Those who were court martialled on Tuesday, 2 May 1916 included Padraig Pearse, Thomas Mc Donagh, and Thomas Clarke.
Those in attendance at today’s event included relatives of the men and women held in Richmond Barracks in 1916, including Liam Cosgrave and family, the Plunkett family, and the O’Hanrahan family. Sabina Coyle Higgins was guest of honour at the event which was also attended by relatives of the 77 women who were held in Richmond Barracks in 1916. The Army No. 1 Band, Anu Productions, and ‘Flames, not Flowers’ all performed at the event.
Speaking on the occasion of the opening, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys said: “This is a great day for the local people who campaigned for many years to get Richmond Barracks renovated. As a former British military barracks, thousands of men passed through Richmond on their way to the First World War, and later it was where the leaders of the Rising were dealt their fate. As one of our ‘permanent reminders’, this is very much a community-led project and I have no doubt that the newly renovated exhibition centre will be a great addition to Dublin 8.”
Commenting on the Barracks, an t-Ardmhéara Críona Ní Dhálaigh said: “I want to congratulate Dublin City Council for developing this exhibition centre at Richmond Barracks, a building that played a central part in the history of 1916. Is rud an-speisialta é a bheith sa seomra céanna ina raibh ceannairí cróga an Éirí Amach. It is an absolute pleasure to see this unique site reclaim its rightful place in local and national history. It will now become a wonderful resource for locals and tourists, keen to learn more about Richmond Barracks and its history.”
Eadaoin Ní Chleirigh, Executive Chair, Richmond Barracks, said: “This unique site has been part of the community in Inchicore for over two hundred years and has a huge significance in Ireland’s national history. These buildings have now been restored to their former glory and from June will be open to the public. Visitors will be able to interact with the story of those who were here in the aftermath of 1916 as well as getting a glimpse into what life was like for tenants who later lived here when it was converted into social housing and renamed Keogh Square.
“The redevelopment of Richmond Barracks has been a labour of love for all those involved. I’d like to especially commend the involvement of Dublin City Council, Purcell Construction and conservation architects Blackwood Associates with Margaret Quinlan Architects.”
Richmond Barracks is open to the public and for tours from June 2016.