by ehistoryadmin on March 13, 2024

The Naas Crimean Cannon

James Durney

The Crimean War (1853-1856) was fought between the Russian Empire and an ultimately victorious alliance of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire, France, Britain, and Sardinia-Piedmont. Over 600,000 died on all sides, most of them non-battle deaths, mainly from disease. Among those from Co. Kildare who were involved was Sister Mary Aloysius Doyle of Old Kilcullen, who nursed at the General Hospital at Scutari, on the Asian part of Constantinople (Istanbul), and Naas men Tom Connor, who saw service with the 3rd Buffs, and Patrick Turner, of the 50th Regiment.

When Sevastapol was finally captured in 1855 hundreds of naval cannon were found in storage. The cannons were of little value as ordnance because of the developments in rifled barrels and cylindrical loads and were shipped out to the victors as war trophies. They were divided equally between the French and the British and were sent to towns in France, Britain, Ireland and even to Canada and Australia. Twenty-one cannons were shipped to Ireland. Seven are in the grounds of Army barracks, but the remainder are prominently positioned in public parks or in town centres. Dublin received six guns, Galway, Limerick, Tralee and Waterford each have two cannons, and the rest went to Birr, Bunratty, Cobh, Dún Laoghaire, Ennis, Newry, Naas and Trim.

To be awarded trophy guns, a town’s corporation or council had to formally request them. One, however, ended up in Naas Barracks, which reopened in 1956 to accommodate the Army Apprentice School. The Naas cannon was a 24-pounder Marine Artillery short gun (7ft 10.5in), cast in 1831 at the Alexandrovski Foundry. It was intended for coastal defence but remained as a landmark facing the Newbridge Road for forty-three years until the closure of the barracks in 1998. It is now situated in the vast marquee accommodating armoured cars, guns and cannons at the Curragh Military Museum.

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