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October 2016 Deported 1916 Galway prisoners commemorated in Wales
Over fifty relatives of the three hundred or so Galway prisoners deported in the aftermath of the 1916 Rebellion travelled to Frongoch in North Wales recently to lay a memorial stone at the site of the internment. The trip was organised by the Friends and Relatives of Galway 1916 and the delegation was accompanied by Cathaoirleach Contae na Gaillimhe, Michael Connelly, Councillor Gabe Cronnelly and Dr Conor McNamara, Moore Institute, NUI Galway.
The group had a deeply personal connection with the Rebellion and included the children, grand children and other descendants of the Galway Volunteers who, led by Liam Mellows, rose in Galway in 1916. A reception for the group was hosted by Chris Ruane, Member of Parliament for the Vale of Clwyd from 1997 to 2015, and grandson of Thomas Ruane, Captain of the Claregalway Volunteers in 1916. Local Member of the Welsh assembly, Ann Jones, accompanied by the retired speaker of the Welsh assembly, Lord Elis-Thomas, welcomed the group and spoke of the importance of remembrance and community.
Following a reception and dinner in the town of Balla, the group were hosted on the site of the internment camp. A number of speakers paid moving tribute to their relatives, with poems and ballads recited and family reminiscences recalled. Chairman of Galway County Council, Michael Connelly, gave an emotional tribute to those who made the long journey to the remote valley and thanked all who played such an important part in ensuring the prisoners were not forgotten.
Dr Conor McNamara, 1916 Scholar in Residence at the Moore Institute, NUI Galway, delivered a lecture entitled, ‘Forgetting and Remembering 1916 in Galway’, focusing on the revival of interest in the period thanks to the endeavours of local communities, facilitated by Galway County Council.
“Dr McNamara said: “The ceremonies concluded with the unveiling of a commemorative plaque, laid on behalf of the people of Galway, in memory of those interned. The plaque pays tribute to the Galway prisoners in both Welsh and Irish. As the rain swept through the valley, events ended, appropriately, with further songs of tribute echoing across the site.”
Dr McNamara explained that NUI Galway is endeavouring to launch an innovative digital humanities project focused on bringing the personal archives and oral history of the revolution to an international audience.