Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Pat Purcell Papers
British Empire Paraphernalia For Auction.
Dividing the spoils...1922

By kind permission of Michael Purcell

Following the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in December 1921 the British Army were preparing to withdraw from Ireland.

In January 1922 President Eamonn de Valera believed that the Anglo / Irish Treaty would be rejected by the Irish people, he thought it only a matter of time before hostilities would resume. He secretly ordered that the R.I.C. Stations and the British Army Barracks throughout Ireland should be penetrated and reconnaissance taken of the defences and weaknesses of the fortifications therein.

On the 6th January 1922, May Gibney of Cumann na mBan delivered a dispatch from Cathal Brugha, the Irish Minister for Defence, to the Commander of the Carlow Brigade, I.R.A. conveying de Valera's instructions.

In mid January, Robert Bell, Auctioneer, Carlow, was engaged by the British War Office to sell by public auction the contents of Carlow Military Barracks. A week later, acting on this information, the Carlow Brigade brought two I.R.A. men from Athy to carry out Dev's orders.

The two volunteers, unknown to the auctioneer, duly presented themselves as the "auctioneer's agents" to the Duty Officer in the Carlow Barracks, he welcomed them and proceeded to give them a grand tour of the premises and out-houses. He then gave them the inventory, reproduced below, compiled by the British soldiers and invited the two men to carry out an inspection of the items listed.

For the following few hours the IRA men strolled contentedly all over the Barracks, chatting with the soldiers and obtaining whatever information they could. They shared a drink with the Duty Officer before they left.

The same day three I.R.A. men (Foley, Byrne and Delaney) from the Carlow Brigade travelled to Maryborough Military Barracks and Stores where they carried out the same mission.

I do not have the auctioneers catalogue for the Carlow auction but I do have catalogues for the Kilkenny and Maryborough auctions.

If you think the Carlow list is comprehensive then you should see the Maryborough list which includes; -- belts, handkerchiefs, neckerchiefs, socks, shirts, jackets, waistcoats, boots, pillows and flags! (possibly Flag-stones).

In February 1922 the following items were offered for sale by public auction in Carlow.

Stock in Carlow Military Barracks for sale by Public Auction.

The following inventory of the contents of the Military Barracks, Carlow was compiled by members of the Irish Republican Army in February 1922.

OUTDOORS: in yard and sheds. Estimated 6 ton of barbed wire; five ladders, 10ft, 15ft, 25ft, 30ft, 45ft; eight galvanized iron canisters; piles of straw mattresses; two old spiked cannon pieces with metal wheels; 34 cannonballs; quantity of broken and rusted weapons, 5 bayonets, 24 lances, 20 rifles, numerous sword pieces, staffs; 3 cwt. sack ouncil*; 5 earthenware gallon casks; two horse carts; large copper vat; a large variety of 58 sweeping brushes; 25 shovels; 5 picks; barrack brazing; 20 hurricane lamps; 80 barrack lamps; chaff cutting machine; a dozen vices; 62 platform posts, high, medium and low; metal piping; large delivery of new covered timber; larger quantity of corrugated iron 6ft and 10ft; quantity of expanded metal 8" x 4"; 6 tins of red and white paint; 3 gallons of varnish; 5 barrows; 8 rolls of wire netting; 10 x 30 gallon barrels; slabs and approximately 500 new slates; 3 anvils; 4 sets of drain brushes; 4 axes; 4 x 30 gallon water tanks with taps; approximately 400 new bricks; scantlings, all sizes; 5 new stoves; variety of 25 packed crates; barrel of kerosene; 12 saddles and horse dressings; The coal and turf shed was emptied and coal buckets removed by people who reside in the locality.

INDOORS: HALL: Upright Grand piano by Foster. 2 office desks and 2 castor chairs with arms; on shelf, account books, quantity of old maps and folders; 2 jars of ink; box of new pens; I large locked safe by Saltburn, 1 smaller unlocked safe by Withers; new pull porter machine; one chest of books; one military travel desk with handles; one folding travel officers chair; 3 blackboards with easels; box of coloured chalk; 40 lockers; 10 Officers chests of drawers; over 200 chairs; 80 small desks; mixture of several hundred bed linens and barrack sheets.

MILITARY CANTEEN: Upright piano by Foster; 1 new pull porter machine; 100 glasses; 300 various forms of delph; boxs of utensils; 150 tables; numerous trestles many sizes; bagatelle; 8 mixed size drums with drumsticks; 4 saddle drums with leather straps; dozens of empty glass and earthenware empty bottles; 4 card tables; 4 Officers tables; brass weights; 15 ft long mahogany counter top; 4 wash buckets.

SLEEPING QUARTERS: 10 japanned washstands; 10 marble-top washstands; 50 painted washstands; 19 chests of drawers; 15 reclining baths; 50 sponge baths; 50 sitz baths; numerous bedsteads; large quantity of bolsters; 80 wooden bed screens; 50 clothes-horses; great mixture of several hundred bed linens and barrack sheets; 120 bedside wooden desks; large quantity of wooden lockers; 12 crates of reading and account books;

HOSPITAL: 18 hospital beds, 100 tables, large office table, large 8 sided table, an enormous lot of provisions, bags of flour, preserved meat, tinned meat, sack of salt, tins of biscuits, tea, sugar, dozens of jars and containers of medical supplies, pills, tonics, rubs, medicines; medical implements; washing soda, 4 vats of disinfecting fluid; washing powder, box of soap;tins of bandages, slings, patches.

KITCHEN: 2 butchers blocks; 40 cooking implements; large metal cooking range; 20 scuttles; 8 copper coal buckets; 4 large enamelled stone sinks; large centre table 12 ft x 5 ft; weighing scales and 8 weights; Large hand decorated sign ~~ARMY, NAVY AND AIR FORCE MILITARY CANTEEN ~~

The above is a true and accurate transcript of the original document.

Transcribed by Michael Purcell, January 2010.


* ouncil was something like a weighing scales / bridge ... there was an "ouncil house" in Hay Market many years ago , opposite the Town Hall and the weighbridge master was Mr O'Brien. He operated from there up to about 1960 . He wore a uniform and a badged cap. He lived in a flat under the Town Hall . He is in one of my books, pictured at the rear of the town hall.. the house itself was demolished in the 1970s... now that would be a picture worth having ... Send  pictures to

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