Ilex brings out the big guns

�/Lorcan Doherty Photography - January 16th 2011. ''Photo Lorcan Doherty Photography

�/Lorcan Doherty Photography - January 16th 2011. ''Photo Lorcan Doherty Photography

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Two heavy artillery cannons unearthed at Ebrington may go on display at the newly renovated site.

The large guns were excavated from the site of the former British military parade ground during the regeneration project managed by Ilex.

The former Parade Ground at Ebrington Barracks where work is continuing for the opening of Ebrington Square on the 14th of February. PIcture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com.

The former Parade Ground at Ebrington Barracks where work is continuing for the opening of Ebrington Square on the 14th of February. PIcture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com.

Now it’s hoped that the guns may go on display somewhere on the new-look Ebrington Square which is due to be officially opened on St Valentine’s night.

The cannon are so-called ‘Armstrong guns’ as they are modelled on the rifled breech-loading field and heavy guns designed by Sir William Armstrong and manufactured in England from 1855.

Research has been carried out on the smaller of the guns, which measures 14’ 7” in length and weighs five tons.

It has been identified as a Mark VI British military rifled breech-loader believed to date from around 1895.

It’s believed it may have made its way to the Star Fort at Ebrington Barracks from Fort Dunree in Inishowen as similar guns can be found there.

The larger of the guns, believed to be a Mark VI measures 21’ 5” in length and weighs 19.6 tons.

Dating from around 1899, the Mark VII was used extensively during World War I as both ground and naval heavy artillery and fired six inch 100lb rounds around 14,500 metres.

Ilex’s Ebrington site manager Alan Armstrong told the ‘Journal’ that the guns are in “pretty good condition” despite paint flaking.

“They’ll have to be dipped in several solutions during restoration but generally they are in pretty good condition. The plan is to mount them here on site. It’s hoped they could be included as part of the maritime museum in the Star Fort and could be used as attractions.”

Mr Armstrong, who pointed out that he was no relation to his namesake who invented the breech-loading gun, said researchers believed the guns may have had quite a history. “Generally when new guns were created they were first given to the navy, then moved to shore defences and later to the army or even to training areas. We know that in particular the Mark VII was used extensively during the First World War.”