Leinsters Depart Birr 100 years ago
A century ago today the Leinster Regiment left Birr Barracks for the last time. As per the Anglo-Irish Treaty, which was signed in December 1921, British military forces were to withdraw from the country, Ireland to provide its own military force, which would be the National Army. The regiment was also marked for disbandment with 4 other historic southern Irish Regiments.
At the time of the regiments departure from Birr the 1st Battalion, Leinster Regiment was stationed in India and the 2nd Battalion, in Colchester, England. The remainder of the depot staff in Birr where to join up with the latter at Colchester.
The depot staff leaving consisted of 4 officer, 64 men, 2 women and 8 children. There were also two wagons full of luggage. Upon leaving the barracks at around 12 noon, the Leinsters were greeted by a large crowd of locals to see them off, as they marched down Military Road for the last time, the regiments band playing several Irish and traditional tunes. At Birr train station they got the train to Dublin, and then made their way to North Wall, where via Holyhead proceed on to join the 2nd Battalion at Colchester.
A detachment of soldiers of the Northamptonshire Regiment remained behind to oversee a large auction of the government stores, which was scheduled to take place on 3 February, and also hand over the barracks to the National Army, which would take several days later.
The Leinster Regiment was formed in 1881 and Birr had its been its depot since. Despite various regiments of the British Army having been stationed in Birr Barracks over its 110 years of occupation, the Leinsters legacy is one still left today, with many people in Birr, Crinkill and the surrounds environs.
The atmosphere of leaving Birr and looming disbandment is eloquently summed up in this photo of some of the depot staff with a make shift sign, which reads.
“OLD ERINS SONS
WITHOUT ANY GUNS
WILL SAIL BACK
IN THE FOGGY DEW