#OTD in 1916 – Irish prisoners interned at Frongoch are released.

Frongoch Internment Camp at Frongoch in Merionethshire, Wales was a makeshift place of imprisonment during the First World War. Until 1916, it housed German prisoners of war in an abandoned distillery and crude huts, but in the wake of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin, the German prisoners were moved and it was used as a place of internment for approximately 1,800 Irish prisoners, among them such notables as Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith. They were accorded the status of prisoners of war. It is a common misconception that Éamon de Valera was also imprisoned at Frongoch. During this time de Valera was held at Dartmoor, Maidstone and Lewes prisons. The camp became a fertile seeding ground for the spreading of the revolutionary gospel, with inspired organisers such as Michael Collins giving impromptu lessons in guerilla tactics.

Later the camp became known as Ollscoil na Réabhlóide, the ‘University of Revolution’ or sometimes ‘Sinn Féin University’. With the appointment of Lord Decies as Chief Press Censor for Ireland after the Rising in 1916, Decies warned the press to be careful about what they published. William O’Brien’s ‘Cork Free Press’ was one of the first papers he suppressed under the Defence of the Realm Act 1914 (DORA regulations) after its republican editor, Frank Gallagher, accused the British authorities of lying about the conditions and situation of republican prisoners in the internment camp. The camp was emptied in December 1916 when David Lloyd George replaced Asquith as Prime Minister. The local school Ysgol Bro Tryweryn now stands on the site of the former camp but a commemorative plaque stands nearby, with inscriptions in Irish, Welsh and English.

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