Soldiers march out of Collins Barracks Dublin for the last time to make way for the new National Museum.

In 1997 the 5th Infantry Battalion vacated a piece of Irish history. Up to this, Collins Barracks, Dublin held the record for being the oldest continually occupied military barracks in the world, and at one time housed 5,000 troops. 

In 1798 Wolfe Tone was court-martialled at what was then known as the Royal Barracks. It was also the venue where the last British battalion handed over power to Commander-in-Chief General Mulcahy on the 18 December 1922.  

After 393 years of military presence, the battalion marched out of the barracks at 3 pm for the last time, to its new home at McKee Barracks in the Phoenix Park. 

Retired Corporal Ronald Chaney was reminded of all the years he spent as a soldier stationed here,

I never thought that this barracks would close down... being here today brings back a lot of memories between here, this barracks, and where it sent me, to the other side of the world, you know, to the Belgian Congo.

Retired Major General Vincent Savino also watched the ceremony with a heavy heart, 

We’ll all feel a bit sad on this occasion, you can’t get away from that, it’s a sad occasion to see soldiers marching out for the last time.

For the moment the Signals and Engineers units will remain on in the barracks for a few months before they also move to their new home.

The building is being converted into a new venue for the National Museum at a cost of £35 million. Up to now, 90% of the Museum’s exhibits could not be put on display due to a lack of space. One of the central attractions here will be a military wing. 

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 18 April 1997. The reporter is Paul Cunningham.