The village originally grew up around a British Army military barracks, Crinkill Barracks, which was constructed around 1805. However, the barracks was abandoned by the British army around the time of Irish independence, and was burnt down in July 1922 as a result of the civil war that followed. Today only the ruins of the outer wall remain. In 2005, the Regimental Association of the Prince of Wales's Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians) began discussions locally about designing a suitable memorial to commemorate the regiment's strong linkages with the area. There is a military cemetery in Crinkill.
The building of the Barracks
In 1805, Lord Rosse of Parsonstown (Birr) received letters about the need for a Barracks in Birr. The British had begun a building fortification program around the country at the height of the Napoleonic wars. Birr was chosen because of its proximity to the river Shannon (2.5 hours march). Fortifications were built along the Shannon - Martello towers at Banagher, Meelick, Shannonbridge and Keelog to prevent any foreign army from crossing the Shannon and into the east of the country.
A site in Crinkill was decided on for the barracks and in February 1808 a letter in Kilmainham Papers indicates a survey in Crinkill, which was leased at a sum of £300 per annum.
The building of the barracks began in 1809 and took three years to complete. It was built by Bernard Mullins who subsequently built Balyeighan House from the bonus he received on the barracks. The barracks which was scheduled to be built in four years was actually built in three and Mullans rented it to the army for one year for the sum of £10,000.
The Founding of the Leinster Regiment
In 1881 the Leinster regiment was formed and their depot was based in Crinkill barracks. On 17 November 1882 2nd battalion of the Prince of Wales Royal -Canadian Leinster regiment arrived by special train in Birr and was billeted in Crinkill barracks. The Leinster regiment occupied one square of the barracks whilst the second square was occupied by visiting regiments. The average length of stay was one year.
The First World War
During the first world war recruitment in Birr resulted in a constant flow of recruits for the first 18 months. After that time there was a steady decline in recruitments. Nearly 6.000 men in total were recruited in the depot area.
Training for the trenches was carried out in the 14 acres (57,000 m2) where trenches were formed for tactical exercises. In 1917 an aerodrome was built in the 14 acres (57,000 m2) and three planes were kept there. On 28 March 1919 the first air crash recorded in the area occurred when a Sergeant Allen was killed. The plane crashed into Crinkill House south of the barracks and Sergeant Allen is buried in the military cemetery.
The Burning of the Barracks
The Anglo-Irish peace treaty was signed in December 1921 and on 11 March 1922 the British Army issued orders for the disbandment of the Prince of Wales Leinster Regiment along with five other Corps and Battalions of infantry.
When the Leinster Depot staff marched out of Crinkill for the last time, all they took with them were the regimental silver awards won on the sports field or the rifle range. They left all the cutlery, linen, pianos and furniture.
Crinkill barracks were handed over to Captain Felix Cronin representing the new Irish National army on 13 February. However civil war was looming in Ireland and a small band of IRA irregulars took control of the Barracks and on 13 July 1922 the barracks were completely destroyed by fire.
On the burning of the barracks looters stripped it of everything they could find.
Leading citizens of Birr pleaded with the irregulars that to destroy the barracks would destroy the local economy, but to no avail. Thus the ill-fated building was burned from one end to the other simultaneously.
The ruins of the barracks became dangerous and in 1985, all internal buildings were demolished, including the landmark clock tower. All that remains today are the perimeter walls and gates.
- Crinkill National School