1916 in Ireland and Wales17 / 08 / 2016
1916 in Ireland and Wales
1916 is an iconic year in modern Irish history. It is also a significant date in the history of modern Wales. This conference puts those experiences side-by-side and asks new questions about them. The immediate link between the two countries is provided by a remote village in north Wales. Following the Easter Rising of 1916 republican prisoners were incarcerated in a camp that had held German prisoners of war at Fron-goch. Among the Irish prisoners were Michael Collins and other figures who would play a key part in the Irish revolution. Fron-goch was subsequently memorialised and mythologised as a ‘University of Revolution’.
One of the speakers at the conference, His Excellency Daniel Mulhall, Ambassador of Ireland to Great Britain, describes the significance of this experience as follows:
‘Fron-goch holds a very special place in modern Irish history, for it was there that 1,800 internees from Ireland spent a formative period in the aftermath of the Easter Rising. The time they spent at Fron-goch had a major impact on the lives of those involved and their subsequent contribution to Ireland’s struggle for independence.’
Recognising the importance of this experience in the history of modern Wales, Linda Tomos, National Librarian of Wales, comments:
‘The significance of Fron-goch in the history of twentieth-century Ireland is a story worth telling to the people of both nations. Fron-goch is also part of Welsh history at the time of the First World War and remains a lasting link between Ireland and Wales.’
It is the First World War that provides the context for the discussion of the two countries at the conference. According to Professor Sir Deian Hopkin, the First Minister of Wales’s Expert Adviser on the First World War, ‘Wales has taken a particular interest in the First World War because so many iconic moments occurred during that conflict which involved the loss of Welsh life and, equally, the loss of the potential for a Welsh future.’
This conference takes Fron-goch as a pivot around which the divergent meanings of 1916 can be assessed, and not only for Irish republicanism. This was also the year of the Battle of the Somme, when the horrific casualties of the 36th (Ulster) Division created a blood sacrifice that became part of Unionist tradition. The first battle of the Somme also featured a costly attack by the 38th (Welsh) Division on Mametz Wood, an event memorialised visually by the painter Christopher Williams and in print by the poets Robert Graves and David Jones, who both took part in the action. Both experiences are memorialised in permanent sites in France. Politically, 1916 was also the year that the Welsh politician David Lloyd George became prime minister of an empire at war. These events raise broader questions about the significance of 1916 in Ireland and Wales, the role those events occupy in contrasting cultural and political contexts and the way they have been interpreted and memorialised. This conference aims to juxtapose these different histories of 1916 and to pose new questions about the consequences of events in that year.
The Conference organised by the Wales-Ireland Research Network, with the support of the Cymru’n Cofio Wales Remembers 1914- 1918 centenary programme and the Welsh Government will be held on 14 September 2016 at Room A14, Hugh Owen Building, Penglais Campus, Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, Wales.
Attendance is free but registration beforehand is essential.
For further information please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. In all emails please quote: ‘1916 in Ireland and Wales’ ‘Cymru’n Cofio Wales Remembers 1914-1918’ in Subject box.
The Wales-Ireland Research Network is grateful to the Welsh Government for funding the conference, through the Cymru’n Cofio Wales Remembers 1914 – 1918 centenary programme.
Cymru’n Cofio Wales Remembers 1914-1918 is the official programme to mark the centenary of the First World War in Wales. It’s a focal point for information on the latest news, projects, events and signposting of information for the commemoration from 2014 to 2018.
The Programme is coordinated by the Welsh Government, working in partnership with organisations from across Wales and beyond.
Facebook: 1916inirelandandwales and Cymru’n Cofio Wales Remembers 1914-1918