First World War Sites in north west Wales




Frongoch Internment Camp

Frongoch Camp just outside Bala was set up to take German prisoners in 1915. It acted as a parent camp under which affiliated work camps for prisoners across Wales were organised and in June 1919 held 2106 German prisoners. However it is most famous for a short period in 1916 when the German prisoners were moved out and replaced by Irish prisoners.

In 1916 Republican groups attacked Dublin in what was known as the Easter Rising. This started on Easter Monday, 24th April, and the Republicans held out for 6 days before surrendering. The British authorities arrested a large number of men, many of whom had not been directly involved in the attack, and a large proportion of these ended up at Frongoch.

There were a maximum of 1800 Irish prisoners at the camp, but by August 1200 had been released. The rest were released just before Christmas. This short period of time was of considerable significance to Irish history because prisoners from several different Republican groups were held together and could freely mix. They also had classes on everything from Welsh to military strategy and tactics, and Frongoch has become known in Ireland as the 'University of Revolution'.

Part of the camp used a building originally built as a distillery for Welsh Whiskey in 1889, while the rest of the camp was composed of wooden huts on a field to the north. Very little now survives and Ysgol Bro Tryweryn now occupies the site of the distillery. One hut, which may have come from the camp, stood until recently and was used by the Women's Institute. Others may have survived as garden sheds in the local area, having been dismantled and moved.

The field that held the northern part of the camp was also used as accommodation for workers building the dam across the Tryweryn that flooded the village of Capel Celyn and created the Llyn Celyn Reservoir in the 1960s.


Distillery building reused as prisoner of war camp




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