Military Museum Collins Barracks

The Barracks

The origins of Collins Barracks lay in the threat posed to Britain and Ireland from Revolutionary France. In response the British Government decided to increase the number of barracks throughout the British Isles.

In Cork the town land of Rath Mór was chosen as the site for a new barracks over looking the city. Construction of the barracks commenced in 1801. It was completed and occupied by British troops in 1806. 

Since its construction, the barracks has played a significant role as a staging post during some major conflicts such as the Napoleonic War, Crimean War, Zulu War, Boer War and the First World War.

On the 18th of May 1922, the British troops evacuated Victoria Barracks which was then handed over to Commandant Sean Murray of Cork No 1 Brigade, IRA. Among the last British officers to serve here was Major Bernard L. Montgomery, In response to the Second World War, a state of Emergency was declared. Ireland remained neutral. However, following Taoiseach Eamon de Velera’s “Call to Arms” the Irish Army’s strength rose to 41,000, and that of the Local Defence Force to 106,000.

Since independence the garrison has also played a vital role in providing aid to the civil authority when requested to do so.

On the 28th June 1963, President John F Kennedy visited Collins Barracks during his visit to Cork.

The Museum

The Military Museum, Collins Barracks, Cork, opened in 1985 and was situated in the Clock Tower Block. In 2005 the Museum was moved to the Old Guard Room, one of the oldest buildings in the barracks which is located just inside the old Main Gate. Its purpose is to tell the history of the barracks, the history and traditions of the Defence Forces and the story of General Michael Collins.

The museum’s Collection contains significant artefacts that are associated with key periods of this history. Included in the Collection are a number of iconic military uniforms dating from the 1800’s right through to the present day.

Michael Collins Collection

One the museum’s main attractions is our collection of artefacts belonging to General Michael Collins, most of which were donated to the museum in 1993 by his nephew Michael Collins. Included are items such as his great coat, two of his revolvers, his War of Independence medal, rosary beads and the personal diary he had on his possession on 22 August 1922, the day he was killed.

Considering General Michael Collins’ connection to the Defence Forces, the fact that he was from County Cork and because the barracks is named after him, we are proud to have this unique collection of artefacts displayed here in the museum.

In the Service of Peace

In 1955 Ireland became a member of the United Nations. The 32nd Battalion was the first unit of the Defence Forces to serve overseas with the United Nations when it was sent to the Congo in 1960.

Members of the garrison from Collins Barracks continue to serve abroad on peace support missions right up to this present day.

General Information

Curator: Mr Jim Horgan

Tel: 00 353 (0)21 451 4252

Opening Times: 

Closed on Monday
Tuesday to Friday: 10.00am to 13.00 Pam
Friday afternoon: 14.00pm to 15.30pm

The Badge Design

The Badge design (common to all Corps and Services and all orders of dress) is derived from the badge of the Irish Volunteers and was designed by Professor Eoin MacNeill, Chairman of the National Executive of the Irish Volunteers. This badge was originally adopted by the Irish Volunteers in October 1914. [Read more]