The Old Barracks serves as a Heritage Centre for the Iveragh Peninsula. It is home to various exhibitions that relate to the local area, including The Great Southern and Western Railway, The Life and Times of Daniel O’Connell, The Fenin Rising of 1867, The 1916 Rising and Monsignor Hugh O’ Flaherty (The Scarlet Pimpernel).
Toilets are available and there is also an elevator to all floors.
The History of The Old Barracks
The history of the Heritage Centre or Old Barracks is fascinating. The building was constructed between the years of 1870 and 1875 as a police station for the Royal Irish Constabulary.
The authorities wanted an imposing building to protect the Irish end of the transatlantic telegraph cable which entered the sea at Valentia Island. The Old World and New World were connected at last and the authorities did not want the humiliating situation of an uprising cutting that link. In fact only one year after the cable had been laid in 1866 there was an ill fated uprising in Cahersiveen by the Fenians.
The British authorities were so anxious to get the barracks built that the plans were mixed up in the haste to get the building constructed that we have a building that was originally designed for the Punjab in India! Somewhere in the Punjab there is a town with a barracks or police station that was designed for Cahersiveen. Unfortunately this story is probably incorrect. The British commissioned the architect Enoch Trevor-Owen to design the building and the Schloss style of architecture was popular with Trevor-Owen.