Save Summerhill Military Barracks, Nenagh, County Tipperary

Save Summerhill Military Barracks, Nenagh, County Tipperary

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Michael Reynolds started this petition to Everyone and

Recently, it has become known that the site of Summerhill Military Barracks in Nenagh, County Tipperary, Ireland, is going to be put up for sale by the Department of Defence. There is still a question as to who has the title ownership/deeds to the site, which hopefully can be clarified at some point. This is now the opportunity to make people aware of its potential and why it should be preserved and restored, not demolished. Yes, it does require alot of restoration (as seen in the picture provided), but surely there have been buildings in even worse condition that have been saved?

Sadly, the barracks has fallen into ruins over the past few decades.  Despite this, the officers’ quarters in better condition than the main building. Over the past year, alot of the military history Nenagh has to offer has been researched and uncovered. The barracks has been the home to thousands of soldiers (including many Irishmen from across the country) over the century since it was first constructed in 1832. Based on research on Church and Civil records, over 300 marriages between soldiers stationed in the town to local women took place, where many children have been born in Summerhill Barracks. Many soldiers died in the barracks, where some are even buried in the barracks site, such as Private Bernard Gilligan, who died in January 1870

It has been used by the British army, local men who enlisted in various wars such as WW1, the IRA in 1922, the Irish Free State Army, the FCA and Irish Defence Forces.

This barracks was the location, along with Pound Street Barracks (present day Sarsfield Street), for the 'Battle of the Breeches', which was the Nenagh Mutiny by the North Tipperary Militia 7-8 July 1856,at the of the Crimean War 1854-1856. It claimed the lives of one soldier, two militiamen and a pensioner, who was an ex-soldier. This mutiny, had it not been for political interference and the reduction in the sentences of the militiamen (who only mutinied after discovering they were not to be given the pay they were promised), could have spread among other militias/Irishmen in regiments and caused a collapse in the British army, which was made up of 40% of Irishmen by the 1870s. Private Patrick Donohoe was born in Nenagh and he went on to earn the Victoria cross for his actions during the Indian Mutiny 1857. It appears that his brother Timothy Donohoe was awarded the military of honour in the American Civil War, making this Nenagh family the only ones in the world with both the VC and MoH awarded in the household. These are just some of the many stories of the town.

This site has an opportunity to become a military museum if restored, as its military tradition intertwines with Templemore (Richmond Barrack-Present day Garda Siochana Training College, Headquarters of Military North Tipperary) and Limerick (New barracks-Present day Sarsfield Barracks, Military Command District),as Nenagh was a detatchment of these. It could re-create barrack rooms soldiers lived there and the messrooms, as not many places in Ireland offer this. There could be uniforms made up (e.g. North Tipp Militia uniform) and exhibitions and artifacts of local Nenagh men (medals, army kits, etc), and include a souvenir shop (selling popular tourist items and cafe or restaurant (providing famous recipes .  There could even be-re-enactments carried out on the grounds of what it was like in the daily life of soldiers. Even tourists visiting could take part if they wished in things such as military drill/inspection or re-enact court martials that took place. This would create jobs (e.g. tour guides and actors for re-enactment as seen in other tourism places such as castles) and attract many tourists to the town, bringing more businesses to the local enterprises. it is important; however, a potential military museum provides a balanced perspective of Nenagh's military history from all sides.

Nenagh is currently being converted into a historic quarter, with Nenagh Castle having been recently renovated and work being done currently to restore Nenagh Gaol. There is currently no place to examine the rich military tradition Nenagh has as a garrison town, so this could be the opportunity to do so. When it comes to funding, it could be a interesting (though possibly quite challenging) for the OPW to take on (as one example), since they have been great in restoring other buildings of historical importance around the country. There could even be the potential to apply to the EU for a cultural/heritage grant, who help carry out restoration projects across Europe, such as Georgian Houses in Dublin and

The barracks should not be turned into anything else, such as housing or car park (for example) as these could be done in other parts of the town, but you only have one historical site. Once the ruins is gone, it cannot be undone (such as the Viking Settlement in Wood Quay Dublin being turned into office blocks, or the Hill of Tara being demolished for a motorway).

Hopefully another survey could be carried out again soon, which can examine what could be done to amend the dereliction on the military heritage site. At the very least, the site should have an archaeological dig carried out and save any parts of the barracks (such as stable gates, fireplace, buried military objects, that could be salvageable, before it is too late.

If there are any further facts that everyone should be made aware of, such as the legal process of historic buildings, etc, please feel free to let us know. I am only providing a suggestion and present some ideas that could be beneficial to the town.

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