WINTER/SPRING 2015 / VOL. 15 ISSUE 1
Books

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," added Walsh.

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.
 
 


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