Search is on for the lost training trenches in Tipp
Research is currently underway to investigate First World War era practice trenches constructed in the old military training grounds adjoining Templemore Barracks, which is now Templemore Golf Course.
The project, which has been supported by Tipperary County Council and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media hopes to shed light on the extent of the trenches and possible provide information on what scale they were and how realistic they might have been.
When the First World War broke out in August 1914, the British Army was not prepared for a war of this scale. This resulted in the formation of Lord Kitchener’s new armies, which men were encouraged to join. With a surge in recruiting for the war, old barracks where there might have previous experienced a decline in use, such as Templemore, saw new life as training centres to prepare the men for what they would expect on the Western Front – trench warfare.
Trenches are possibly one of the most iconic aspects of the war and it was something new recruits needed to learn.
Around Ireland at various military barracks and camps, miles of practice trenches were dug as part of a training regime. In some locations, such as the Curragh Camp entire trench systems were mocked up, these included front lines, second line trenches, reserve lines and communication trenches, which would link these various trenches together.
The initial investigation at Templemore has shown that there might be similar set ups, front line trenches has been identified, recognised by their zig zag shape, along with support lines and communication trenches. The zig zag nature of the front-line trenches was done to prevent explosions travelling down the trench and to give defenders a place to retreat to in case of a trench raid/attack.
To date, a geophysical survey of the golf course has been completed by archaeologist Dr Ger Dowling, with the kind co-operation of Templemore Golf Club.
The results indicate some positions of where the trenches are. These results will be further interpreted with aerial photography to hopefully give a better understanding of full extent of the trenches. The full results will hopefully be published later this year.
The project is being undertaken by historian Stephen Callaghan, who has previously been involved with the survey and excavation of training trenches located at Birr Barracks, Crinkill, Co Offaly.