Ballincollig Barracks

“ 3rd Dragoon Guards, Ballincollig, 1845
Cavalry horse.

by

Eunice Shanahan

This fragile and torn letter still has a great interest for the contents. The letter is addressed to Lieutenant Adjutant Robinson, 3rd Dragoons Guards, BALLINCOLLIG Barracks, Cork and concerns finding a suitable horse. The person who received the letter has made a note on the outside.

Letter from H Renolds Contractor for Army Cavalry horses to Adjt Robinson of 3rd Drgns Grds 29th March 1847
which appears to be the wrong year.

Ballincollig is a large town outside of Cork with an interesting history. This information is from Wikipedia

The Barrett family (after whom the barony which contains Ballincollig is named) built Ballincollig Castle during the reign of Edward III. The castle was taken from Andrew Barrett by rebels in 1641, but they were expelled by English Parliamentary forces under Murrough O'Brien, Earl Inchiquinn, in 1645. It was garrisoned for James II in 1689, during the Williamite war in Ireland, then remained unoccupied after his defeat, and fell into decay.

The Ballincollig Royal Gunpowder Mills were opened in 1794 by Charles Henry Leslie, a prominent Cork businessman. Eleven years later, the mills were bought by the British, who were preparing for war with Napoleon, and the barracks were built to protect the supply of gunpowder. It was one of the largest gunpowder mills in the British Isles. In 1837, the mill employed several hundred workers, and by 1880, Ballincollig was one of the largest industrial establishments in Cork, with the mill employing many men and boys from the area.

With the closure of the Gunpowder Mills in the early 1900s, Ballincollig became little more than a small village on the road from Cork city to the larger market town of Macroom.

As can be seen from this letter, the 3rd Dragoon Guards were stationed at the barracks in 1845, and I have found an image of their cap badge on this website https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50249841 by Dormskirk - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.


From the postal history side, the letter is definitely in poor condition, and has had the adhesive postage stamp removed, but the postmarks are clearly marked. The Dublin Diamond in red with single frame was in use from 1815 to 1846, so this is quite a late example of this mark. It has the figures 20 above MR 29 over 45 and BALLINCOLLIG circular date stamp of MR 30 1845 E.

There was no postmark for when the letter was posted, only the Dublin transfer and then to the delivery point.

The illustration shows that the sender of the letter did not have enough room to write on the other side of the paper, so continued on the outer page. This would have been folded in when the letter was sealed, so not visible until it was opened.

The letter begins on the inside page, and is clearly legible.

Ballinalee Mch 29th 45

Mr Robinson,
Sir, I should have answered your letter before now but could not say sooner that I had provided a Horse for you, it has been a most difficult thing to get any thing with Breeding & Strength four year old. I do intend taking him to Mullingar to have the Colonel’s opinion of him, in order that should the Colonel not approve of him, I might look out for something else. Mullingar Fair will be on Tuesday the 8th of April. I would much like to meet yourself there.

I will expect a line from you with the Colonel’s directions to me saying what time he will be down, & if you will be there yourself. I can now say that my Brothers recovering fast and I hope is over all danger, please to let Mr Hayden know that he is.
My best respects to Mr Tims & all Acquaintances.

I remain, My dr Sr Yrs etc etc

Henry Reynolds.

P.S. let me know all particulars as soon as possible. The Horse I have got for you is a Brown Bay 15 2½ without a white hair. I was obliged to go outside the terms of your letter, but I consider it to be all right he’s got by Lottery, Dam by Musician with good looks & fine action.


Notes: The linear measure for a horse the ‘hand’ equals 4 inches so 15 hands would be 60inches, that is, 5ft but I don’t know what the 2½ could be.

The Mullingar Horse fair was well known, and I checked the calendar and April the 8th was a Tuesday.

As a matter of interest, if the horse was purchased, I wonder what Adjutant Robinson named his horse with this breeding, perhaps “Lucky Note?”

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