ON THIS DAY: March 28th 1922 – THE TAKEOVER OF THE RIC BARRACKS IN LETTERKENNY
In January 1922, Michael Collins and his troops took over the running of the administrative machinery of Ireland in Dublin Castle. Over the weeks and months that followed, phased disbandments of the Royal Irish Constabulary took place so that by 2nd April 1922 the force formally ceased to exist (although the actual process was not completed until August.)
For Letterkenny Barracks, the momentous day took place on Tuesday March 28th 1922. There were two barracks in the town at that time, one at Lower Main Street (on the site of the Wolfe Tone Bar now) and one next door to the Courthouse (a solicitor’s office today). Both barracks were evacuated and handed over to Col. Commandant Glennon, 1st Northern Division IRA at 7am on March 28th with the barracks then occupied by members of the Irish Republican Army supplied by Letterkenny Company. The old coat of arms of the RIC was taken down from over the main entrance and a large tricolour flag hoisted through the window.
About 80 RIC men then left for the railway station. The rifles, ammunition and baggage of the departing troops was escorted out of town by a regiment of the Dorsets in three motor lorries accompanied by two armoured cars. On the same day, Raphoe and Lifford Barracks were evacuated while Buncrana’s was vacated the day before.
The handover of the barracks was not without its tragedy however. Just days prior to their departure, the RIC had dumped a lot of their explosives, bombs, rockets and verey lights over the Port Bridge into the Swilly. When the tide went out, the explosives were stuck in the silt and were found by a group of young boys, some of whom were reported played football with the explosives down the Main Street! One young man, James Moore of Rosemount and his friend Patrick Curran were toying with one device when the bomb went off. The windows of the house were blown out with young Moore being killed and Curran losing his hand