Front cover sketch illustrated by Michael Devereux, Castlebridge, for the 1997 Show Programme:
Garda Barracks in Castlebridge Village:
This is Michael Devereux’s black and white sketch of the Garda Barracks in Castlebridge. The Garda Barracks is located on the Castlebridge/Crossabeg road on high ground overlooking the “Slimes” and Slaney Estuary. The first Gardai came to Castlebridge on 14th June, 1923 and were stationed in a house owned by Mrs. Quirke. As these premises were unsuitable they were moved to another premises owned by a Mr. Davis. This move took place on January 9th 1924. The number of members stationed there at that time was five Gardai and one Sergeant. These premises were found to be unsuitable also and no other suitable accommodation was available in Castlebridge. While the new barracks was being constructed they had to move to the Coast Guard Station in Curracloe. This took place on May 9th 1932. The men of the force eventually found permanent accommodation in the new barracks on January 3rd 1933. In 1997, when this sketch was prepared for the Show Programme, the barracks was being used as married quarters for a Garda attached to Wexford Garda Station.
Accommodating the Gardai in 1923 - This article shows the hardships suffered by the force in acquiring suitable accommodation.
The following are extracts from letters from the Commissioner of Civic Guards and the Board of Works in relation to finding suitable accommodation for a unit of the Gardai at Castlebridge.
The Deputy Commissioner – 10th January 1924. Re: Castlebridge Station
Submitted. With reference to previous correspondences on above subject I beg to inform you that on the instruction of the Board of Works,representatives of the Gardai occupied the new premises owned by Mr. Davis, Castlebridge, on yesterday the 9th instant. The house is in good repair excepting that the walls are in bad order for the want of whitewash and paper. The old premises at Castlebridge were occupied on the 14th June 1923. I have notified the local representatives of the Board of Works of the transfer.
Commissioner (A) – 31st March 1926. Re: Premises at Castlebridge– Repairs
Submitted. With reference to detailed report furnished in September last, I beg to state that no repairs have been executed at this Station so far. I can no longer recommend this Station as suitable for permanent occupation. The walls appear to have become undermined by the moisture soaking through. While there was paper on the walls this was not noticeable but this is now peeling off in large quantities and the walls thus exposed appear unsound. The building is decaying at an alarming rate and unless extensive repairs are carried out soon it will be uninhabitable.
To the Sergeant – 3rd December, 1928. Re: A New Range
With reference to your letter I am sorry I cannot see my way to put in a new range as this range is only in between two to three years. There must have been something wrong about the treatment it got. If so, the Board of Works is liable for wilful damage. P.S. your letter went astray as it is Ferns, not Enniscorthy. I may also mention that that is the second range since the Guards went there.
The Secretary, Office of Public Works – 12th December, 1928.
With reference to the provision of accommodation for the Garda Siochana at Castlebridge, Co. Wexford, I am directed by the Commissioner to forward for your attention the attached requisition for the provision of a new range in the kitchen of this station. The range already installed is of the cheapest type and has cracked and almost fallen to pieces. In its present condition it cannot be used for cooking purposes and in consequence the station party are forced to cook their food on the dayroom fire. This arrangement is most unsatisfactory and inconvenient for the men. The landlord of the premises is liable for maintenance and has blankly refused to either repair the present range or have a new one installed. In the circumstances the Commissioner will be glad if the matter has the early attention of your Department.
AnRunaidhe, RoinnDliagusCirt – 10th December 1930. Re: New Barracks at Castlebridge.
With reference to the provision of accommodation for the Garda Siochana at Castlebridge, Co. Wexford, I am directed by the Commissioner to inform you that a report has been received from the local Chief Superintendent intimating there is a suitable site now available for the erection of a new barracks at this centre. The owner of the property, Mr. Thomas Stamp of Ballyboggan, Castlebridge, has been approached by the Garda and he expressed his willingness to sell a suitable site at a reasonable figure. The proposed site is situated on the Castlebridge/Crossabeg road within the precincts of the village and adjoining the site of the Castlebridge National Schools built some years ago on the same lands. The Chief Superintendent has inspected the site which is apparently suitable and should prove healthy, dry and easily drained. It is centrally situated and within 500 yards of the present barracks. From local enquiries there does not appear to be any other suitable site in the locality and the Commissioner, therefore, recommends that immediate action be taken to secure the site above referred to.
The present accommodation here is absolutely unsuitable for temporary purposes and one of its most objectionable features is the lack of sanitary accommodation. There is no sanitary accommodation whatever in the barracks and in this respect the party are obliged to seek facilities elsewhere in the most primitive manner. Attention has already been drawn to this matter but no action has been taken to remedy it. The position in this respect is really disgraceful and an outrage to the ordinary decencies of life.
The landlord of this barracks is responsible for maintenance but it is futile to expect him to do anything. He has been approached in the past but always with a negative result. A portable closet was left in the yard of the barracks a considerable time ago but no effort whatever was made to have it erected and put into proper working order for the use of the party. The Commissioner would be glad if you would please take this matter up with the Board of Works and urgent necessity for the provision of sanitary accommodation pending the erection of the new barracks at this centre.
AnRunaidhe, RoinnDliagusCirt – 2nd April 1931.
With reference to previous correspondence regarding the provision of accommodation for the Garda Siochana at Castlebridge, Co. Wexford, I am directed by the Commissioner to inform you that some repairs of a minor nature have recently been carried out by the Board of Works to the premises occupied at this centre. These repair, although satisfactory so far as they go, are yet insufficient to make the premises habitable pending the erection of the new barracks for which purpose the following additional repairs are considered essential:
1. The provision of a new back door as a protection against severe north winds which play upon the rear entrance.
2. Repairs to framework and provision of several panes of glass in windows of men’s dormitory.
3. Laying down of new floor, boarded or cement, in room situated between hallway and kitchen.
4. New floor in men’s kitchen. The existing floors in 3 and 4 are of clay and are badly holed.
5. Repairs to floor of Dayroom.
6. Repairs to stairs and landing.
Subject to the execution of above repairs the premises would be capable of habitation pending the provision of the new barracks - assuming the latter will be ready for occupation next winter.
The position regarding sanitation is deplorable. In fact, sanitary facilities are for all practical purposes non-existent at the station. Three years ago a portable closet of the earth bucket system was supplied by the Board of Works but it is so badly located in full view of the public road and of adjoining occupiers and so utterly lacking in privacy that it is useless to the party by whom it is not utilised. Further, the landlord has let the barracks yard – which would be unsuitable in any circumstances – and garden to a civilian for grazing and general use and the lessee maintains that the Gardai are trespassing on his property when they have recourse to the rear of the premises.
The nature of the sanitary contrivance and its exposed situation, taken in conjunction with the right assumed by a private individual to challenge their use of the barrack yard, renders the position intolerable for the party. With regard to the question of a site there is apparently no information available as to whether any progress has been made by the Board of Works towards the acquisition of the site approved of in my letter of the 10th November last.
In the event of the Board encountering difficulties in connection with the acquisition of this site there is an alternative site available on the property of Mrs.Sinnott, Publican, Castlebridge, situated on the main Wexford/Castlebridge road at a distance of approximately 400 yards from the present barracks and 200 yards outside of the village. The site in question is about half an acre in extent. The ground appears to be low-lying and is not considered as suitable as the site already recommended but, as an alternative, its possibilities should be investigated by the Board.
With reference to your minute of the 11th ultimo, regarding the provision of accommodation for the Garda Siochana at Castlebridge, I am directed by the Commissioner to inform you that the Garda Barracks at this centre was vacated on the 9th instant on which date the party entered into occupation of the temporary premises at Curracloe. The Board of Works may be informed accordingly.
The Commissioner – 30th May, 1932
With further reference to ultimate paragraph of this office report of the 14th May last, I beg to recommend that Commissioner be pleased to request the Board of Works to arrange for the painting of the windows, window fittings, and internal woodwork of the temporary premises at present occupied by the Gardai at Curracloe, please. The application of a coat of paint to the doors of lavatory and fuel store is also necessary and desirable. When furnishing report of 4th May it was understood the the carrying out of above works was part of the original contract but it has since been ascertained that this is not so. As yet the telephone removed from the old premises at Castlebridge has not been installed in the temporary premises.
Commissioner of Public Works – 6th July, 1932
In view of the fact that the Gardai are in occupation of these premises as a purely temporary measure, we are of the opinion that we would not be warranted in incurring expenditure on their interior decoration.
Commissioner – 12th October, 1932
With reference to your minute of the 27th May last relative to the provision of telephone service for the Garda Siochana in the temporary quarters occupied at Curracloe, the Department of Posts and Telegraphs has intimated that the cost of providing a telephone exchange line is estimated at £60 and that the rental of the circuit, which would be chargeable for a minimum period of three years, would be £17 per year. In view of the high capital cost and the temporary nature of the premises, it is proposed to inform the Department of Post and Telegraphs that the provision of a telephone service for the Garda Station at Curracloe may be deferred.
Commissioner – 19th January, 1933
Submitted please. With further reference for my minute of the 26th November, 1932, I beg to refer to the following defects:
1. There is no water supply installed and this is considered the most important matter which requires attention. The nearest water supply is 300 yards distance, and I recommend that the Board of Works be urged to erect a pump in the barrack yard.
2. Lavatories provided are of the pail type, but there is no refuse pit provided. This is also an urgent matter.
3. No shelving of any kind fitted in store room.
4. Mantelpieces in both kitchens are constructed of cement blocks and have a rough unfinished surface with the result that they present an unsightly appearance. It is suggested that they be plastered or painted similar to other woodwork.
5. If grills or steel bars were fitted over kitchen ranges it would add much to requirements.
6. The sewerage has become choked, and it is thought that this is caused by the spreading of gravel on yards and walks.
7. Telephone has not been installed, and it is recommended that the Post Office Department be requested to attend to the matter as early as possible. The local Post Office connection is only 150 yards away.
FINALLY - AFTER TWELVE YEARS!
Commissioner – 14th December, 1935
Submitted please. Further to my minute of 21st November, 1935, in reference to the above subject, I beg to state that the work of erecting a fence around the Arus and the gravelling of the paths at this centre has now been completed. The Engineer of the Board of Works inspected the work and was satisfied that same had been carried out in a satisfactory manner. There is now no other outstanding repairs to be attended to at Castlebridge Station.