A Little Strong Castle

‘The police station which lay on our road, and at which we stopped, was a new, neat, spacious building. At a short distance, it looked like a little strong castle; and the natives may probably look upon it as a fort Uri in miniature, to keep them in awe. It lay at the highest part of the mountain, just where the road again begins to descend. All round was a wilderness, and reminded me of the military stations so picturesquely situated in the wild regions of the Austrian frontier. The house contained eight men of the constabulary force, as it is called, and which is a military-armed police, now extended over the whole of Ireland, for the prevention of crime, the discovery and apprehension of criminals, the protection of property, and the preservation of the peace…The sergeant who had command of this station informed me that their district comprised the desolate mountains far and wide, but that there were only 220 inhabitants in it. Eight armed policement for 220 inhabitants – a large proportion in sooth!’
From Travels in Ireland by Johann Georg Kohl, published in 1844.
The former Royal Irish Constabulary Barracks at Derrycunnihy, County Kerry, a building seemingly burnt out over a century ago during the War of Independence and standing in ruin ever since.

2 comments on “A Little Strong Castle

  1. Bob F says:

    As always an enjoyable read, thank you Robert. Some extra information – It’s called Mulgrave Barracks and was destroyed by the Black Valley IRA Company after it had been abandoned by the RIC in 1920.
    Local lore suggests the original building on this site was erected by ‘Lord Kenmare’ (an Earl, created 1801 at the time of the Act of Union) as a stable and later was used as a watchtower to minimize poaching. He is supposed to have funded the RIC building as the constables main function also was to stop poaching.
    Initially the Kenmares and Herberts hunted the red deer to near extinction to prevent forestry damage but by the late 1830’s both families reversed the process, encouraging and preserving deer to provide an income from stalking. There are stories that families were evicted from Derrycunnihy to improve the conditions for the deer.
    Lewis records it at the same time as Kohl (1837 and 1836 respectively) . The ‘new road’ referred to was built c 1823. Also, it was below this site that a deer hunt put on for Queen Victoria ended so disastrously.

  2. Donal Deasy says:

    My grandfather was stationed there. He and two other sergeants used to cycle to Glengarriff to visit what would become their wives.

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