During the First World War, Frongoch in Merionethshire, Wales was a makeshift internment camp for German prisoners of war. However, after the 1916 Easter Uprising in Dublin, it came to house Irish prisoners, who were considered prisoners of war. The Germans were moved out, and 1,800 Irish prisoners moved in. These included Irish insurgent leader Michael Collins and future Hollywood actor Arthur Shields.
The camp was soon to become known as the “University of Revolution” due to Michael Collins giving impromptu lessons in guerrilla tactics and the spreading of revolutionary gospel among the rebels. Tim Healy, the Irish MP, is credited with being the first to describe the camp as the Sinn Féin University, and historian Lyn Ebenezer argues that this saw the birth of the IRA.
The Easter Rising of 1916 came from the desire to end British rule and establish an independent Irish Republic. This came about while Britain was engaged in the First World War, and the rebellion kicked off the desire for independence throughout the British Empire, which was to collapse after the victory over Germany and its allies.
Organised by a seven-man Military Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the rising began on Easter Monday, 24th April 1916, and lasted for six days. The rebels declared an Irish Republic and the British Army brought in thousands of reinforcements. The leader of the uprising agreed to an unconditional surrender on Saturday 29th April, after which the country remained under martial law. Approximately 3,500 people were taken prisoner, and 1,800 of then were sent to internment camps or prisons in Britain, which will have included Frongoch in North Wales.
The uprising, and the British reaction to it, led to an increased popular support for Irish independence. In December 1918, republicans, led by the Sinn Féin party, won a landslide victory in the general election to the British Parliament. Rather than taking their seats, they declared the independence of the Irish Republic, which led to the War of Independence.
Around 500 people were killed in the uprising, 54% were civilians, 30% were British military and police, and 16% were Irish rebels. The shelling caused by the British military left parts of Dublin in ruins.
As this year marks 100 years since the Easter Rising, Aberystwyth University is holding a symposium organised by the Wales-Ireland Research Network, with the Wales Remembers Centenary programme and the Welsh Government. It is being held on the Penglais Campus at the University on 14th September 2016. There will be a number of speakers present, mostly consisting of lecturers from Aberystwyth University, Cardiff University, Dublin City University, Queen’s University Belfast, Royal Vetinary College London, Edinburgh University and the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies. The event will also be host to the Ambassador of Ireland for Great Britain.
Please find attached below the programme for the event.