Irish President invited to visit Easter Rising prison camp to mark centenary
A Welsh village that saw many Irish nationalists imprisoned following the Easter Rising is planning its own events to mark the centenary next year.
They include a personal invitation to Irish President Michael Higgins to visit the site.
The site, near Bala in Gwynedd, was home to Frongoch prison. After the Rising in Dublin was quashed, 1,800 Irish men were imprisoned at Frongoch. It had previously been used to detain captured German soldiers during the First World War.
Now, the owner of the land on which one of the two camps stood has written to President Higgins to formally invite him to visit the site next year, following discussions with leading figures in the local community.
A place of interest to Irish people
Councillor Elwyn Edwards told the BBC that the village is already a place of interest to Irish people, particularly those descended from those who fought in the Rising.
He said: “They want to know everything about what happened when their relatives were brought here by train – they’re really interested to find out all they can.”
Frongoch was used to hold 1800 Irish men following the Rising. It proved to be a critical stage in the Irish fight for independence from Britain.
Young nationalists such as Michael Collins used the time to reflect on the mistakes made during the Rising, and plan future rebellions more efficiently.
It was also a vital resource to make contacts of other nationalists from across Ireland, and share ideas and strategies for the future. This earnt the site the nicknames of ‘University of Revolution’ and ‘Sinn Féin University’.
The camp was emptied of all its prisoners in December 1916, when David Lloyd George became British Prime Minister.
Many of those interned at Frongoch went on to fight under Michael Collins in the Irish War of Independence.