Museum Pays €5,000 for Historic Journal

 

The Clare Champion,
Friday, November 14th, 2014

 

 

CLARE Museum has paid €5,000 for a historical 1916 album, compiled by a former Meelick IRA volunteer and future deputy, Patrick Brennan.

This journal and autograph book, which 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, was bought at auction by Clare Museum.

The journal features accounts of life in North Wales camp, poetry in Irish and English, and coloured illustrations of the camp and its inhabitants.

It is also autographed by many of the camp’s prisoners, including Michael Collins and Richard Mulcahy, who would later become major figures in the Irish War of Independence and the establishment of the Irish Free State.

“Outside of the author’s historic connections with 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 Councillor John Crowe, chairman of Clare County Council.

Councillor Crowe said he had known about the contribution of Patrick Brennan during the struggle for Irish freedom and his work as a Clare deputy from 1921-22 and 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” he said.

The book, which is expected to go on public display before Christmas, was successfully acquired at Whyte’s auction house on Saturday by Clare County Librarian, Helen Walsh, acting on behalf of Clare Museum. There are also plans to have the document digitized, to allow people to view its contents online at www.clarelibrary.ie.

Ms Walsh explained she viewed the book in Whyte’s ahead of the weekend auction and deemed it to be of great value and local significance.

“It is beautifully illustrated in parts, with watercolour drawings of the camp, poetry in Irish and English and numerous signatures of note. It also contains artwork by Cathal Mac Dubhghall featuring the words ‘Fianna Fáil’, which was an alternative Irish language translation for the title of the rebel Irish Volunteers. The name was adopted by Eamon de Valera’s political party some 10 years later”.

Patrick Brennan was one of the Irish Volunteer leaders in Clare at the time of the 1916 Rising and was interned at Frongoch in June 1916 by the British Army.

On his release, shortly before Christmas 1916, Brennan became leader of the 1917 Volunteer campaign in Clare, which ultimately led to the Mountjoy Hunger Strike of September 1917, the martyrdom of Tomás Ashe and consolidation of republican sentiment across the country. Brennan took part in the Cratloe Ambush of January 1921. Brennan was later elected as a pro-treaty TD for East Clare and was central to the development of the Civic Guard (later An Garda Síochána).

The purchase was described as “exciting news” for local people by Councillor Cathal Crowe, who said he had asked chief executive officer, Tom Coughlan, to acquire the journal, having seen it on Whyte’s auction catalogue.

“Patrick Brennan’s journal is on its way to its rightful home in the Clare County Museum in Ennis. Apart from politics, I have a huge interest in local history. I am involved with the Meelick, Parteen and Cratloe War of Independence Committee and studied history at the University of Limerick”, he said.

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