The Heritage Centre
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The History of the Building
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The history of the Heritage Centre or Old Barracks is fascinating. The building was constructed between the years of 1870 and 1875 as a police station for the Royal Irish Constabulary. The authorities wanted an imposing building to protect the Irish end of the transatlantic telegraph cable which entered the sea at Valentia Island. The Old World and New World were connected at last and the authorities did not want the humiliating situation of an uprising cutting that link. In fact only one year after the cable had been laid in 1866 there was an ill fated uprising in Cahersiveen by the Fenians. 

There is a lovely story. The British authorities were so anxious to get the barracks built that the plans were mixed up in the haste to get the building constructed that we have a building that was originally designed for the Punjab in India! Somewhere in the Punjab there is a town with a barracks or police station that was designed for Cahersiveen. Unfortunately this story is probably incorrect. The British commissioned the architect Enoch Trevor-Owen to design the building and the Schloss style of architecture was popular with Trevor-Owen. 

In our Civil War the building was burnt down by anti-treaty forces. The Reublicans did not want the Free State Troops to have such a commanding building in the area. In the book 'Echoes of Caher' by Kevin H. Murphy the building was destroyed by the women of Cahersiveen. (So we men must be very careful of the so called gentler sex!) On 24th August 1922 the Free State Army landed by ship at Valentia Island and by train at Cahersiveen station. The men fighting for the Repubican cause were forced back to the mountains and the womenfolk entered the building and destroyed it by fire. With the floors, walls and ceilings being constructed from wood the building burnt readily. 

And there the story might have ended but some people got together in 1991, 69 years after the building had 
been destroyed and decided to re-build it. On 21st September 1991 the photograph to the right of 6 men standing at the front of the burnt out building, Jim Sugrue, Willie O'Driscoll, Leonard Hurley, Denis Cournane, Joe C. Keating and Christie O'Neill.

In September 1996 the 'new' Old Barracks was officially opened as the Heritage Centre of Cahersiveen. 


Come in and have a look round - it is interesting and you will go away with more knowledge on Cahersiveen 
and the colourful history of the town and the surrounding district.
 

There is now funding available for the building to have a major restoration and work started in November 2013. Click Here to view these plans. Hopefully the building will be re-opening in May 2014 when it promises to be better still! On this page, the Events page and the FACEBOOK page of the Old Barracks there will be regular updates on the progrss of the restoration work.

It is my sad duty to tell all the readers of this website that the Old Barracks will stay closed for the whole of this year. The builders were supposed to have started on the restoration work in March finished by May but I believe there is some problem with the funding. When walking round the building it is a shell now with all the artifacts taken and stored. There are many tourists who come to the Old Barracks only to discover the building closed. I would like to apologise most sincerely to those people. Hopefully now it will be open for 2015.

In June 2014 the restoration work is now underway. This past week (commencing 23rd June) the builders have been putting scaffolding round the building. The photographs below were taken on Wednesday 25th June. Click on them for full sized photographs.

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