Birr's Russian cannon has its origin in the Crimean War (1854 – 56) and this week, the cannon was safely returned home to outside John's Hall where it has proudly stood with prominence for nearly 160 years.
The cannon is an 18 pounder (that is, it fired a round iron shot weighing 18 pounds) seven feet 1 1/2 inch in length and weighs 1,441 kg. It was cast in 1827 at the Alexandrovski Ironworks in northern Russia and subsequently, travelled to the Black Sea, England and Ireland.
It has been nearly thirty years since previous restoration works were carried out on the cannon by Birr Town Council. Unfortunately, it had fallen into very poor condition. However, thankfully, the team at Birr Municipal District, led by Kevin O Meara and Joe Mannion, worked to painstakingly re-store the cannon over the last number of months.
And this week, the 'Tribune' was there to capture the action as the cannon was returned to its usual spot outside of John's Hall.
According to the 'Story of Birr's Russian Cannon', written by Dr Paul Huddie in Offaly History 11 Journal, the Russian cannon originated in the frozen north of Russia and travelled to the Black Sea, England and Ireland.
“The Russian cannon, which today stands proudly outside of John’s Hall originated in the frozen north of Russia and travelled to the Black Sea, England and Ireland. It was forged about 1827 and saw service with the Marine Artillery of the Russian Imperial Armed Forces before being decommissioned sometime before 1854. Having been brought to Birr as a trophy to celebrate the successful conclusion of the Crimean War it became a memorial to, among other things, the men of the town who, along with several thousand of their countrymen, fought and died in the Crimea and on other battlegrounds between 1854 and 1856.”
“Unlike many of its peers it has been respected and kept in place of public prominence for nearly 160 years and today, along with Birr Castle, the statue to the 3rd Earl of Rose on John Place and even the old Joh’s Hall outside of which it presently stands, it is a symbol of the town and heritage of the town of Birr,” he wrote.
It is also a favourite amongst newly married couples to pop down to have some wedding snaps taken. Meanwhile, read more about this fascinating feature of Birr in next week's Tribune.