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Saturday 25 May 2019

Fingal fighters were held in Welsh prison camp

Frongoch was a camp where hundreds caught up in the Easter Rising were dispatched to in 1916. Situated in the bleak Welsh countryside, one prisoner was quoted as saying 'it was like Connemara, only a lot quieter!'And many Fingallians spent months there, lists obtained by Sean O'Mahony for his book Frongoch - University of Revolution - listing dozens of them.The book gives a

IT MAY have been part of Irish political and military folklore for just seven months but the name of Frongoch is one that remains infamous in many minds.

Frongoch was a camp where hundreds caught up in the Easter Rising were dispatched to in 1916. Situated in the bleak Welsh countryside, one prisoner was quoted as saying 'it was like Connemara, only a lot quieter!'

And many Fingallians spent months there, lists obtained by Sean O'Mahony for his book Frongoch - University of Revolution - listing dozens of them.

The book gives a wonderful insight into history of the camp, first of all home to German prisoners of war from WW1 and then the Irish.

Over 900 were taken prisoner after the failed rising and sent to mainland Britain to be detained, their journey over harsh enough as the ships dodged German U-Boats. In 1916, Frongoch, 30 miles inland from Colwyn Bay, was housing Germans but they were quickly dispersed to camps in Europe.

Frongoch was famed as a distillery for Welsh whiskey and the two camps that made up the compound were part of the distillery complex.

It opened on June 9, 1916 and two days later a general committee of the prisoners was elected to run it, headed by the veteran nationalist from Skerries, William Ganly.

The camps, known as North and South, were surrounded by 12ft wire fences and manned by 400 guards.

Conditions were basic with roll call at 5.30am and then breakfast with lunch consisting of frozen Aussie or New Zealand bully-beef. The men would have 7.40am mass and enjoy activities, indoors and outdoors in the afternoon. At 9.30pm, the bugler played the last post.

It was a breeding ground for both the secret oath-bound IRB and the IRA. As one prisoner stated 'many left with the seeds of Fenianism deep in their hearts.'

The prisoners also learned crafts and one item was a holy water font made from the shoulder bone of a cow by John McCann who was killed in Rush in November, 1920.

There were over 80 youths there, many under 18 and one of the youngest was Joseph Lawless from Swords. He would go on to fight in the Tan war and was a close friend of Michael Collins and Dick McKee.

He would later organise cars for them from his garage business in Drumcondra and served as Director of Cavalry in the Free State Army and retired as colonel in 1958.

Some looked to the future and the setting up of the New Ireland Assurance Company took place in Frongoch with a first director, Richard Coleman who died in Usk prison in 1918.

Joseph Clarke was listed as being a prisoner there and from Rush. He had fought in St Stephen's Green and served many terms in jail. He was Hon vice president for life of Sinn Fein and died in 1976.

Thomas Hand from Skerries was also there. He was chairman of the Sinn Fein Courts and was murdered by the Black and Tans in Skerries in December, 1920.

Frongoch itself closed just before Christmas 1916, mainly due to disatisfaction with it by the Americans and the Irish community there. Britain had been seeking American support for the war effort.

Sean O’Mahony secured a list of those held in Frongoch from various records. Some names of Fingallians held there could be missing.

Richard Aungier, Lusk; Joseph Beggs, The Square, Skerries; Patrick Brogan, Collinstown, Lusk; Daniel Brophy, Lusk; Pat Caddell, Collinstown, Lusk; Matthias Derham, Skerries; John Devine, Lusk; Peter Doyle, North Commons, Lusk, William Doyle, Lissenhall, Swords.

Thomas Duff, Swords, Thomas P.Duke, St Margarets, Patrick J.Early, Swords; William Ganly, Skerries; Peter Gibbons , Skerries; James Gough, Lusk; Thomas Hand, Milverton, Skerries, John Hynes, North Commons, Lusk, James Connor, Richardstown.

Dick Kelly, Lusk; J Kelly, Commons West, Swords; Joseph P Kelly, Corduff, Lusk, Matt Kelly, Corduff; Thomas Kelly, Corduff, Edward Lawless, Swords; Joseph Lawless, Swords; Bernard McAllister, Donabate; John McCann, Back Lane, Lusk; James McDonnell, Little Strand St, Skerries.

J.J.McNally, Chapel Green, Lusk; Thomas Maxwell, Lusk; Christopher Moran, Swords; Peter Moran, Little Forest, Cloghran; Richard Mulcahy, Sutton; Fred Murphy, Lusk; Christopher Nugent, Swords; James O’Connell, 9 Parnell Cottages, Malahide; Peter O’Kelly, Swords; Thomas O’Reilly, North Bank, Skerries.

John Rafferty, Lusk; James Rickard, Baldungan, Skerries; Edward Rooney, Lusk; James Rooney, Lusk; P.J.Ryan, Collinstown, Cloghran; Thomas Seaver, Lusk; Patrick Sherwin, Newhaggard; Edward Stafford, Swords; Christopher Taylor, Swords.



J Taylor, Swords; Thomas Taylor, Swords; Joseph Thornton, Skerries; Bartle Weston, Turvey , Charles Weston, Turvey; Thomas Weston, Swords.

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