Centenary of the accidental killing of popular Limerick woman Winifred Barrington

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Extract from Limerick Leader article shared by Dr Luke Brady  Limerick Leader Archives

THE turbulent year of 1921 in Irish history has already spawned a series of commemorations relating to tragic events in the history of Anglo-Irish war of 1919 to 1921.

One such unfortunate incident which perhaps is largely forgotten outside of the Limerick region was the almost certainly unintended killing of Winifred Barrington, only daughter of Sir Charles Barrington of Glenstal Castle in the townland of Murroe on May 14 exactly 100 years ago.

By all accounts Winifred was a popular and well liked, if somewhat feisty young lady around Murroe and surrounding environs of County Limerick. She had served as a nurse during World War One in Queen Mary’s Auxiliary Hospital, Roehampton, and later in France with the London ambulance division during the European war before returning home to Glenstal.

On the afternoon of May 14, 1921 she set out on a pony along with her friend, a Miss Coverdale, with the intention of going into the nearby town of Newport to link up with a Captain Gabbeth, a friend of her father’s and some others, plus unfortunately for Winifred, a District Inspector Harry Biggs of the Auxiliary Forces who was one of the most hated of The Black and Tan Officers around the whole South of Ireland.

D.I. Biggs was particularly disliked around the Newport area because during the previous four months or more he had treated the local population around Newport with particular disdain and terror, taking parents of suspected Republican supporters as hostages, when out on his military patrols, threatening and beating suspects, burning houses and on one occasion at Silvermines, forcing an unwilling section of Mass attendees, coming out of church, reluctantly to sing God Save The King by firing bullets over their heads for encouragement.

Whilst passing out the Gate Lodge of Glenstal on her way to Newport, a Mr O’Brien, one of Sir Charles long-standing employees, with whom Winifred was particularly friendly, and who had served with the Irish Fusilliers in the Army of the day in Canada, Egypt, and India and who suspected where Winifred might be heading, tried to persuade her not to go – saying ‘I am a soldier myself but I would not dare to speak to those soldiers – i.e The Auxillaries – from even across the street’.

Sadly, Winifred being a little headstrong, did not heed Mr O’Brien’s advice and proceeded towards Newport with her friend saying to Mr O’Brien that because she had been in the ambulance service and the Flying Corps during the Great War, she need not fear anyone!

Having arrived in Newport, Winifred joined up with Captain Gabbett at the residence of a Major Kingscote, a Lt. Trengrouse of The Oxfordshire Light Infantry, and subsequently D.I. Biggs, with whom Winifred had a passing acquaintance.

Following afternoon tea in Major Kingscote’s home, Winifred, instead of taking her pony back to Glenstal, unfortunately accepted a lift towards Glenstal with D.I. Biggs in his military vehicle. He was due to return to Aldershot on the forthcoming Whit Sunday and because of the traumas he had inflicted on the Newport and surrounding population, the local Republican volunteers had vowed he would not leave Ireland alive.

Probably based on some local information that the party was heading back towards Newport, a group of approximately twelve Republican Volunteers assembled around the downslope of Coolboreen Bridge on the Newport Road, armed with shotguns and rifles.

As D.I. Biggs vehicle approached the downslope and bend of the bridge, in the gathering gloom of darkness of the evening, the Volunteers opened full force fire. D.I. Biggs was immediately shot dead, whilst Winifred who was sitting in the front seat adjacent to Biggs and unfortunately wearing a military style cap at the time, was cleanly shot through her lungs and legs with bullet fragments. She was thrown out onto the roadway unconscious and died shortly afterwards from haemorrhage and shock.

In time she was brought back to Glenstal Castle, and was subsequently buried in nearby Abington Cemetery on May 16, 1921.

It was reported at the time that every window blind in Murroe was drawn down and the bells of the Catholic Church chimed mournfully until the cortege had passed fully through the village.

The sadness and devastation caused to Charles Barrington by the loss of his only daughter, coupled with some downturn in the economic fortunes of the estate at Glenstal around that time due to the gradual whittling down of the size of the estate during the Land Acts Distribution of the 1880s, had a profound effect on the Barrington family and some four years after the death of Winifred, the family decided to move to Botley in Southern England for good.

After almost two hundred and thirty years since arriving in County Limerick as clockmakers around 1750, the succeeding generations of the family had left an indelible mark on the Limerick environs, building in time The Great Castle and Estate at Glenstal, planting over 200,000 trees on the estate, developing a walled garden, and constructing in 1829, the first ever charitable hospital in Limerick city, the now iconic Barringtons Hospital, as well as part of the Limerick Docks, and the well-known Barringtons Bridge over the Mulcair River.

The loss of the Barrington family in 1925 led in time to a noticeable uplifting in the educational fortunes of the county, for some two years later in 1927, the Benedictine order in Belgium were induced into purchasing Glenstal Castle with the intention of setting up a boys boarding school, now Glenstal Abbey School, run by the Benedictine Monks, and in time firmly established as one of the premier boarding and day schools in Ireland, in the beautiful setting of The Glenstal Abbey estate.

Sadly, the very last of the original Barrington Family in Ireland, Marie Louise Barrington, died in her home in Clonasavoy House, not far from Murroe in 1947 and is buried alongside Winifred in Abington Cemetery, with the remarkable wording ‘Here lies all that could die of Winifred Barrington’ whom this short article remembers, 100 years on from May 14, 1921.


Murroe Website EditorCentenary of the accidental killing of popular Limerick woman Winifred Barrington
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MWP Community Building Plans

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Interested in taking a closer look at our new multi-purpose community building and landscaping plans for Murroe Wood Park? Well, here you go, folks!

This YouTube presentation will give you more detailed information about the designs themselves: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLhWsv2o3S8
Please e-mail or PM us through our social media pages if you have any questions and we will do our best to answer them.
We’re looking forward to welcoming the community into this exciting new space in 2022.
*This project is being funded by Ballyhoura Development CLG and the @Department of Rural and Community Development under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund.
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Murroe Tidy Towns – Going for Gold Competition 2018

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Murroe Tidy Towns are looking for your support… Murroe Tidy Towns are taking part in the Limerick Going For Gold Competition 2018. This competition has a top prize of €10,000 and several runner up prizes. First part of this competition is an interview on Limerick Live 95 FM. Our representative will be interviewed on Thursday 16th August at 11 am. You can vote for Murroe by logging onto the Limerick going for gold option on the Live 95 FM website between 12 noon and 12 midnight on Thursday 16th August only. There is No Cost to vote. The group who receives the most votes will progress to the next part of the competition.For more information on Murroe Tidy towns log on to their facebook page Murroe Tidy Towns FB.  Thank you for your continuous support

Murroe Website EditorMurroe Tidy Towns – Going for Gold Competition 2018
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Communities Facilities Grant Award

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We are delighted to announce that Murroe Wood Park CLG, the body established to oversee the development of the Murroe Field Project, has been awarded €1000 from the Communities Facilities Scheme by the Department of Housing, Planning & Local Government. This funding will help provide seating along the community walkway.

Murroe Wood Park is also awaiting the outcome of three other very substantial grant applications which would provide the remaining funds required to complete Phases 1 and 2 of the Field Project. Please keep your fingers crossed for a positive result!

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Field Project Update: Construction Begins

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It’s finally happening, folks: Construction of Phase 1 of our Community Field Project got underway this week. This phase seeks to put in place our all-weather pitch and community walkway. All going well, these facilities should be ready to go by September.

Thank you to everyone who has helped us get to this point, particularly through the various fundraising events over the past few years. And while we’re on the subject, the legends involved in the recent Strictly Come Dancing event will be presenting their cheque for the monies raised to the Murroe Wood Park board on Friday, July 7th, in the Valley Inn. More info to follow.


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Murroe Community Park Field Project Update

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A quick update on the Murroe Community Park Project:

The Field Project is progressing very well and we are now close to going for tender for the Astro Turf Pitch. It is planned to build both the astro pitch and the walking track together, as part of Phase 1 of the overall project.We hope to have contractors on site at the beginning of May and have this stage of the project completed by August.

We wish to acknowledge and thank Limerick City & County Council and the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, who have made this possible through the provision of €500,000 in Hinterland funding. We also thank IPB Insurance who have awarded us €10,000 towards completion of the walking trail through the  2016 Community Engagement Fund. And, of course, thank you to everyone who has organised and supported our ongoing fundraising events to get this massive project off the ground. Hope to see you all at ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ in April!


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TLC 2017

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It’s that time of the year again.

Registration has opened for this year’s Team Limerick Clean-up, which will take place on Good Friday, April 14th.

Murroe has had the largest turnout of any area in Limerick for the past two years and we hope 2017 will be no different as we come together to help keep our community clean.

Individuals and groups interested in taking part can register via this link and will receive their free TLC packs shortly before the event.

Hope to see you all on April 14th!

E HTLC 2017
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IPB Pride of Place Competition Update

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Keep your fingers crossed for Murroe this weekend, when the winners of the 2016 IPB Pride of Place competition are announced at the Gala Awards Ceremony in Belfast on Saturday, November 26th. Over 1000 guests, representing communities across the island of Ireland, are expected to attend the ceremony, which this year takes place in the Waterfront Hall, Belfast.

‘Pride of Place’ is an All-Ireland competition which showcases the best in community achievement on the island of Ireland. The competition is organised by Cooperation Ireland under its Local Authority Programme, which highlights their commitment to supporting community groups that undertake initiatives to improve their communities and regions. Pride of Place is unique in that it specifically recognises the involvement of the local community in all aspects of rural and urban regeneration, including enhancing social cohesion, heritage and environmental awareness.

The Pride of Place competition is open to every local authority north and south of the border to nominate groups to represent their county. This year, Murroe had the honour of being nominated by Limerick City and County Council as their entry for Population Category 3 (population under 2000). It joins 3 other Limerick entries for 2016: Broadford Development Association, Liskennet Day & Recreational Service and Limerick Youth Theatre.

Pride of Place Judges Tom and Alison Dowling visited Murroe on July 11th, where our many groups and organisations had the opportunity to showcase the remarkable work being done within the community. The judges were treated to a half hour presentation in the Fitzgerald Room of the Muintir na Tire Hall, followed by an opportunity to meet and speak to the groups at stands set up in the main hall, and in a tour of the village and Glenstal Abbey.

You can view the community survey booklets presented to the judges at these links:

Adult survey responses: pop_survey_adults

Child survey responses: pop_childrens_survey

You can also view photographs from the day here.

A huge amount of effort went into preparing for this competition and we would like to thank everybody who contributed and who came out to meet with the judges.

Whatever the outcome on Saturday night, we clearly have a lot to value and be proud of in our community. Lets see if we can get that recognised at a national level!

The Pride of Place Gala Awards will be live streamed, so tune in on Saturday evening, from 7pm, by clicking on this link: http://prideofplace.ie/live-stream-test, or by going to the Pride of Place homepage.

Thank you & please keep those fingers crossed!!!

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Pride of Place Survey Responses

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While preparations were underway for the judges’ visit for the Pride of Place competition in June, we asked adults and children in our community if they felt proud to live here and why. We created 2 survey booklets from the responses we received – one for the children’s responses, and one for the adults’. These we gave to the judges during our presentation.

With just over 2 weeks to go before we learn the outcome of our nomination, we wanted to make these booklets available for everyone to read online. Regardless of the verdict on November 26th, we have plenty to be proud of and to celebrate in this little community.

Here are the links for the survey. Hopefully they will work! Thank you to everybody who took the time to submit a response.



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