Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Former RIC barracks
remains a striking
presence in Pallasgreen

The former Royal Irish Constabulary barracks is a striking building in Pallasgreen, Co Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Patrick Comerford

Pallasgreen in East Co Limerick has pretty, traditional thatched pubs, an unusual bicycle museum with a themed cafĂ©, the crumbling ruins of a mediaeval tower house and castle, and hidden churches – all enough to invited tourists and travellers to take a break on the main road between Limerick and Waterford.

But during my visit over the bank holiday weekend, I found the former police barracks was also a striking building in Pallasgreen.

This former Royal Irish Constabulary barracks is a two-storey block with a cellar and a three-storey tower with a pyramid roof. It was designed by the Dublin-born architect Robert John Stirling (1841-1915) and built in 1874 by the contractor Patrick Kenna.

This impressive substantial barracks incorporates architectural features that are characteristic of the late Victorian period, including the projecting block, porch and fine rendered detailing.

Despite its unconventional form, the building is well proportioned. Although it is now disused, the barracks retains most of its original form and massing, as well as much of the original fabric.

The former RIC barracks is one of three built to similar designs in this area (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

This is one of three police barracks built to similar designs in this locality. The other two are in Bruff and Tipperary town.

Although the barracks is now vacant, the high quality of its design, and its scale and height make it a striking building.

The architectural features in this former barracks include the gable-fronted porch at the front, the two-bay three-storey over basement block, the camber-headed opening in the porch with render block-and-start surrounds, and the flight of limestone steps at the entrance with rendered balustrades and limestone copings.

The RIC barracks in Pallasgreen was designed by Robert John Stirling (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

The barracks was designed by the Dublin-born architect Robert John Stirling (1841-1915). Both his father, John Stirling, and his brother, William Stirling, were architects too, and Robert Stirling received his architectural training from his father, and joined the staff of the Board of Works as a draughtsman in 1860.

Stirling remained with the Board of Works for 24 years. From the late 1870s on, he was a land improvement inspector, but also worked briefly in private practice as a land surveyor and valuer with James Hargrave Bridgford in Bridgford & Stirling in the 1870s.

He set up his own private practice in 1884 and was a surveyor with the Civil Service Building Society until 1893. Later, he was an architect with the Dublin estates of Trinity College Dublin, designing the Pathology Building or Parsons Building, extending Nos 22 to 26 at the Rubrics, and rebuilding New Square.

Sitrling’s other works include Saint Victor’s (now Saint Catherine’s Church) on Donore Avenue, Dublin.

The barracks has been vacant for many years, but remains a striking building (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

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