Sunday 22 January 2017

GAA honours 1916 rebels with match at Frongoch site

Sarah MacDonald

Published 20/06/2016 | 02:30

GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail and a piper before the match between Hertfordshire and Yorkshire at Frongoch in Gwynedd, Wales Photo: Paul Currie/Sportsfile
GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail and a piper before the match between Hertfordshire and Yorkshire at Frongoch in Gwynedd, Wales Photo: Paul Currie/Sportsfile

It is a Welsh field that will forever be known as 'Croke Park'. The former internment camp of Frongoch was once home to 1,800 Irishmen, among them Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith, who were interned after the Easter Rising.

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In July 1916, it staged an epic match between Louth and Kerry that became known as the 'All Ireland Behind Barbed Wire' with the Kingdom beating their rivals by just one point to lift the Wolfe Tone Cup.

At the weekend, that match was recalled when Frongoch played host to the All-Britain Junior Football Shield between Hertfordshire and Yorkshire as part of the GAA's 1916 commemorations.

On Saturday, GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail presented the specially commissioned Wolfe Tone Cup trophy to Hertfordshire, who defeated Yorkshire by 3-11 to 1-3.

Speaking ahead of the match, Mr Ó Fearghail said it was "fitting" that a game should once again be staged in Frongoch as part of the GAA's 1916 commemorations.

"Football was very much to the fore with a large number of those held there and could be viewed as an expression of their cultural identity, in addition to being a vehicle for keeping the men fit and active," he said.

While detained in Frongoch, the internees organised inter-hut and inter-county competitions which were all played on a football field that the internees named 'Croke Park'.

Locals in the Welsh village still refer to the field by this moniker.

Alan Milton, the GAA's head of communications, told the Irish Independent that the GAA was currently deciding whether the presentation of the Wolfe Tone Cup should be a one-off to mark the centenary of the famous match a century ago or whether it would now continued to be played for on an annual basis.

One of those attending the match was Fr Tom Looney, who has written extensively on his relative, Kerry captain Dick Fitzgerald, after whom Fitzgerald stadium in Killarney was named.

Councillor Alwyn Jones, who now lives on and farms the land in Frongoch, told the Irish Independent that each player placed a piece of grass from 'Croke Park' into the box with their medals as a tribute to the men interned there in 1916. The Proclamation was read out by piper Cormac Bowell during the interval.

Irish Independent

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