Standing in his Revolutionary French Military uniform he must have seemed like an esoteric bird to the members of the Barracks courtroom. A very dangerous esoteric bird.
Malton’s “Barracks. July 1793”Although Irish, a month before he had been captured attempting to land with a French force of 15,000 troops in Bantry – not to conquer Ireland to but to unite with a projected Irish Rebellion to expel British troops. He was very aware what his love of country would cost. “For it I became an exile; I submitted to poverty; I left the bosom of my family, my wife, my children, and all that rendered life desirable. After an honorable combat, in which I strove to emulate the bravery of my gallant comrades, I was forced to submit”. Found guilty of treason he was sentenced to be hanged. Instead he attempted a botched suicide and Theobald Wolfe Tone died eight days later in Barracks Provost’s Prison.
The Barracks, located on the west side of Dublin on the banks of the Liffey, was to be Thomas de Burghs first recorded building. Erected in 1701 it is one of Dublin’s earliest public buildings and one of the largest of it’s type in Europe. It was the main British garrison for Dublin with up to 1,500 troops being stationed there. In December 1922, it was handed over to the Irish free state and was renamed Collins Barracks in honor of the Commander-in-Chief of the Irish army Michael Collins who had been killed four months earlier.
In 1988 it was decided to close Collins Barracks and when, in 1997, the 5th Infantry Battalion marched out it brought to a close 290 years of continuous service – the longest serving army barracks as noted by the Guinness book of records.
Collins Barracks was soon to re-open as part of the National Museum of Ireland with an emphases on the Decorative Arts & History of Ireland and, appropriately, Ireland’s military history from 1550.