President invited to Frongoch to mark Rising centenary

Wales village became home to 1,800 republican prisoners following events of 1916

Michael Collins, who was sent to Frongoch in Wales following the 1916 Easter Rising. Photograph: Hulton ArchiveMichael Collins, who was sent to Frongoch in Wales following the 1916 Easter Rising. Photograph: Hulton Archive

President Michael D Higgins has been invited to the Welsh village of Frongoch next year to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising.

Frongoch, which is on the edge of Snowdonia in the middle of Wales, became famous after the Rising when 1,800 republican prisoners were sent there in June 1916.

Frongoch housed a veritable who’s who of the Irish Revolution: Michael Collins, William T Cosgrave, Terence MacSweeney, Richard Mulcahy andGerry Boland were all interned there.

The prisoners arrived in Frongoch on June 9th, 1916. In total, 30 would go on to become TDs in the State they had created.

Frongoch became known as the “university of revolution” and Mr Collins said Frongoch was where the tactics which would lead to the War of Independence were first discussed “at English expense”.

Embarrassment

Frongoch closed by Christmas 1916, having become a source of nationalist grievance and an embarrassment to the British government.

It was originally a distillery which was later used to house German prisoners-of-war during the first World War until the Rising in April 1916.

The north camp is now an open field. The south camp has a school on the site now.

All that remains of the camp is a hut in an adjacent farmer’s fields. A monument and plaque mark the original site.

Centenary

Locals have met the Welsh Government with a view to securing funding for next year’s centenary commemorations. They hope to move the hut to a site accessible to visitors.

They also wish to build a replica of the camp and to put in English and Welsh information boards explaining the significance of Frongoch.

Cllr Elywn Edwards, who represents the nationalist Plaid Cymru, said he expected the commemorations in Frongoch not to be contentious as many in the area would have sympathies with Irish nationalists.

Cllr Alwyn Jones, who lives on the site of the old POW camp, said he hoped more Irish visitors will come and visit Frongoch as it was a significant place in both Irish and Welsh history.

“One of the biggest mistakes the British government made was to bring them all together in Frongoch,” he said.

A spokesman for the President Higgins said his diary has not been done for next year, but an invitation to Frongoch will be considered.

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