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Official Launch of Frongoch Project

Official Launch of Frongoch Project

On Tuesday 6th December at 12:00pm, the Digital Repository of Ireland will launch a series of new digital exhibitions to commemorate the internment of Irish prisoners at the Frongoch internment camp, Wales, in the aftermath of the 1916 Easter Rising. The exhibitions are a collaboration between the Digital Repository of Ireland, the National Museum of Ireland, National Library of Ireland, National Museum Wales and National Library Wales. We are delighted that Catriona Crowe, Archivist and Cultural Commentator, will officiate the launch. She will be joined by Linda Tomos, Chief Executive of the National Library Wales, and Vice-Chair of the Cymru’n Cofio Wales Remembers 1914-18 Board, to celebrate this international collaboration.

Frongoch and 1916: Recreating a Lost Landscape is an exciting new series of exhibitions built on the Inspiring Ireland digital cultural heritage platform, to mark the centenary of the internment camp at Frongoch, Wales. Sponsored by Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the project features a series of new curated exhibitions of digital cultural heritage objects from Irish and Welsh sources, combining items in public collections with those shared from private collections, alongside expert commentary from leading scholars of the period. Inspiring Ireland will also promote cultural exchange between Ireland and Wales, by contributing digital objects to the People’s Collection Wales, a website that allows the public to share their “memories of Wales in photographs, sound recordings, documents, videos and stories”.

Commenting on the project, Raghnall Ó Floinn, Director of the National Museum of Ireland said: “These digital exhibitions complement the National Museum of Ireland’s centenary exhibition Proclaiming a Republic – the 1916 Rising, the success of which is testimony to the extraordinary public interest in the events of 1916. They allow for a richer engagement with the collections of the participating institutions in Ireland and Wales, making them more accessible to audiences both nationally and internationally. We hope that such collaborative projects will continue into the future.”

Director of the Digital Repository of Ireland, Natalie Harrower, said: “We are very happy to expand the Inspiring Ireland digital cultural heritage platform in exciting new ways. Throughout the first part of 1916, we released a series of exhibitions commemorating the Rising, and included items collected from the public in Ireland, as well as at the key Diaspora centres of London and New York. With this new series of exhibitions on the Frongoch internment camp, we’re able to collaborate even more fully with international partners, creating narratives that explore the interwoven histories of Ireland and Wales at this important time period. In our current historical moment, with nationalism and isolationism on the rise, these shared histories play a small role in countering divisiveness, by presenting cultural heritage as a complex tapestry that crosses borders and reveals common histories.”

Frongoch and 1916: Recreating a Lost Landscape contains a number of thematically arranged exhibitions, augmented by unseen memorabilia from private collections digitised at public memorabilia collection days. Frongoch provides a fascinating window into 1916, because the Irish prisoners, their Welsh guards and local townspeople created a kinship during this short imprisonment, leading to a fount of stories and an array of artefacts that mark the brief period of the camp’s existence. Following the 1916 Easter Rising, the camp was emptied of the German prisoners being held there from WWI battlefields, and was populated with c. 1,800 Irish prisoners, including Michael Collins. The camp was emptied in December 1916, but not before becoming known as ‘ollscoil na réabhlóide’, the "University of Revolution" for the discussions and classes that had been built by the community.

Director of the National Library of Ireland, Dr Sandra Collins said: “We are delighted to have worked on this collaborative project with our colleagues in Wales and Ireland, to use the national collections to tell the story of Frongoch and 1916. It’s a great illustration of how we can tell a richer, more complete story when we work together.”

Linda Tomos, Chief Executive of the National Library Wales, added: “This project has enabled Wales to forge new links with our partners in Ireland. Frongoch demonstrates that we have an important shared history and I look forward to more opportunities to work together.”

This material expands existing 1916 collections in Inspiring Ireland, the Digital Repository of Ireland’s flagship digital cultural heritage platform, which launched in 2014. Earlier 1916 collections include ‘Women and the Rising’, ‘The Rising in the Regions’, and ‘Remembering the Rising’. The extension of the exhibitions to incorporate the Frongoch material illustrates DRI’s commitment to engaging with the international dimension of Irish cultural heritage.

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NOTES

About Inspiring Ireland 1916

Inspiring Ireland 1916 is the second phase of the multiple-award-winning cultural heritage resource Inspiring Ireland. It presents an innovative of exhibitions of cultural artefacts, stories and interpretation that surround the events of 1916. Available online since January 2016, the exhibitions curate iconic national treasures alongside privately-owned memorabilia which has been gathered at national and international collection days in Dublin, London and New York.

About the Digital Repository of Ireland

The Digital Repository of Ireland is a national trusted digital repository for Ireland's social and cultural data. The repository links together and preserves both historical and contemporary data held by Irish institutions, providing a central internet access point and interactive multimedia tools. As a national e-infrastructure for the future of education and research in the humanities and social sciences, DRI is available for use by the public, students and scholars.

Contact

For more information on the Frongoch project and Inspiring Ireland 1916, please contact Caroline McGee, Project Creative Lead for Inspiring Ireland: c.mcgee@ria.ie

For more information on the Digital Repository of Ireland, please contact Clare Lanigan, Manager of Education and Outreach, Digital Repository of Ireland: c.lanigan@ria.ie