Beggar’s Bush: Symbol of Conflict

Beggars Bush pic

Beggar’s Bush Barracks (Photo by Frances Parnell)

Beggar’s Bush is the site of a former army barracks. The British Army used it from 1827 as a recruit training depot. It also housed elderly British Army reservists who were known around Dublin as the “Gorgeous Wrecks” because of their GR (Georgius Rex) armbands.

During the 1916 Rising, Éamon de Valera’s Boland’s battalion had outposts outside the barracks, under the command of Michael Malone. Some of the reservists, returning to the barracks after military manoeuvres, were among the first British Army casualties of what came to be known as the battle of Mount Street Bridge.

The barracks was handed over to the Free State Army, under the command of Michael Collins, on 31 January 1922. It was the first barracks to be officially handed over by the British. In November 1922, during the Civil War, Robert Erskine Childers (who had brought guns into Howth on the Asgard in 1914) was executed in Beggar’s Bush by his former comrades.

Beggars Bush is now home to the National Print Museum, among other things.

Where did the name Beggar’s Bush come from?

Before the Dodder bridges and Grand Canal Docks tamed the area, Beggar’s Bush was a treacherous marshland crossed by a handful of rough tracks and wooden bridges. It was a notorious hang out for highwaymen and beggars. That is where it got its name, according to historian Turtle Bunbury.

Words and photos by Frances Parnell


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