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Detail of the Royal Barracks in Dublin (now Collins Barracks) from John Rocque’s A Survey of the City, Harbour, Bay and Environs of Dublin (London, 1757)

‘The permanent residential army barracks of eighteenth-century Ireland: culture, society, innovation and change’ project looks at the social, economic, cultural, environmental and political impact of the building and maintenance of permanent residential army barracks in eighteenth-century Ireland.

The commencement of the building of a countrywide network of barracks in Ireland in the late 1690s was a wholly new and innovative approach to dealing with the age-old problem of maintaining a standing army in both peace and wartime. The only other European country to have developed a similar network at this time was France.

The Irish model was to set the example for the rest of the British empire as the eighteenth century unfolded, as the usefulness and utility of such residential military complexes became more apparent to both the state and the general public. However, the social, cultural, economic, environmental and political impact of these barracks and their occupants upon eighteenth-century Ireland, and their role in initiating change in all of those spheres at a local and national level, have not been investigated. This project will carry out such an investigation, and locate it in a wider European and imperial context.

The project has two key strands. The first involves the compiling of an online database and mapping of all barracks built in Ireland from 1690 through to 1815. The second involves carrying out research on a wide range of primary and secondary sources that will provide answers to the central research questions relating to the impact of the barracks and their occupants upon Ireland as well as their wider significance.

The project has been in gestation since November  2010, and is currently being funded by seed funding from UCD Research, a research award from UCD College of Arts and Celtic Studies and an IRC Government of Ireland ‘New Foundations’ award.