Clare Museum Acquires 1916 Journal
A journal and autograph book that provides a unique insight into life
and conditions at Frongoch prisoner of war camp, where an estimated 1,800
Irish participants of The Easter Rising were interned between June and
December, 1916, has been acquired at auction by Clare Museum.
Belonging to IRA Volunteer and future Clare T.D. Patrick Brennan from
Meelick, the album features accounts of life in the North Wales camp, poetry
in Irish and English and colored illustrations of the camp and its inhabitants.
The journal is also autographed by many of the camp's prisoners, including
Michael Collins and Richard Mulcahy. The latter later became an instrumental
figure in the ensuing Irish War of Independence and the establishment of
the Irish Free State.
"Outside of the author's historic connections with Co. Clare, this journal
and autograph book is hugely important considering the upcoming centenary
of the 1916 Rising and the significant influence of the Frongoch camp experience
on the future leaders of the Irish War of Independence," commented Cllr.
John Crowe, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council.
The Cathaoirleach added, "As a native of Sixmilebridge in East Clare,
I have long known about the contribution of Patrick Brennan from nearby
Meelick during the struggle for Irish freedom and subsequently as a politician,
including as a TD for Clare (1921-22, 1922-23). I warmly welcome the acquisition
of this book which serves as a timely and poignant reminder of the sacrifices
made by Irish men and women for their country."
The book, which went on public display before Christmas, was successfully
acquired at Whyte's auction house on Saturday for €5,000 by Clare
County Librarian Helen Walsh, acting on behalf of Clare Museum.
Walsh explained: "I viewed the book in Whytes ahead of the weekend auction
and deemed it of great value and significance for Co. Clare. It is beautifully
illustrated in parts with water color drawings of the camp, poetry in Irish
and English, and numerous signatures of note. It also contains an artwork
by Cathal Mac Dubhgall featuring the words, "Fianna Fáil", which
was an alternative Irish language translation for the title of the rebel
Irish Volunteers. The name was later adopted by Eamon de Valera's political
party some 10 years later."
"We anticipate that the journal and autograph book will be placed on
public display at Clare Museum in Ennis before Christmas. We are also arranging
to have the document digitized so as to allow people to view its contents
online at clarelibrary.ie,"
Walsh acknowledged Cratloe-based Councilor Cathal Crowe who informed
Clare County Council that the book was being auctioned at Whytes, and would
be a historically significant acquisition for Clare Museum.