How British Trained Irish Rebels @ Frongoch
After the Easter Rising in 1916, England was faced with what to do with the several thousand men they’d arrested.The answer was Frongoch Internment Camp in Wales.
Frongoch Internment Camp, a converted whiskey distillery did not squash the desire for Irish independence among the Irish rebels.
The dream of a free Ireland continued to thrive in the hearts and souls of of the men, despite being ripped from their homeland and families and the hardships of prison life. In fact, Frongoch was so beneficial to the War of Independence that it was nicknamed” the University of Revolution.”
One just has to wonder .. “What were the British thinking?” Frongoch was a buzzing, singing, drilling, military camp of Irish rebels whose only goal in life was a free Ireland.
That spelled traitor to the British! The authorities actually arranged route marches and drills, keeping them fit for the future fight for independence.
In addition to their exercise, prisoners were allowed Gaelic football, skittles and handball to keep them fit. They also played cards, draughts, and chess.
Included among the rebels at Frongoch were teachers, poets, and journalists. To keep up their Irish education classes in Irish, Latin, shorthand, bookkeeping, telegraphy, and Irish history was taught.
Concerts were held including Irish rebel songs such as A Nation Once Again, Gallant Men of 98, and The Soldier’s Song which would become Ireland’s national anthem! Now how’s that for keeping up the rebel spirit?
Music included fiddle players, pipers, dancers, and poetry.
Not everything in the garden was rosy however. The food was poor and inadequate although packages were allowed from home. Ventilation was a problem too as was rats. Similar to the crowded conditions during the famine, men got sick on the ship over from Holyhead and medical care was negligent in and out of the prison.
Séin Fein University, as Frongoch was referred to, emphasized drilling, smuggling, studying military manuals, firearms and tactics.
Michael Collins and Richard Mulcahy were the leaders.
Friendships were formed and inmates graduated as Irish revolutionaries.
General Maxwell who said “I am going to ensure that there will be no treason whispered for 100 years,” was utterly wrong.
A book on Frongoch Prison can be found here.
Do you think the British knew what was going on at Frongoch or were they oblivious to what was happening?
To be on my mailing list for a free review copy of Petticoat Rebels of 1916, you can leave a comment or email me. It will be available November 1st.