An epic GAA football match that became known as the ‘All Ireland Behind Barbed Wire’ was commemorated last weekend when a match was played at the site of the former internment camp at Frongoch in Wales.
On a Welsh field known locally as ‘Croke Park’, some of the 1,800 Irish war heroes interned following the Easter Rising played a match 100 years ago between two Louth and Kerry teams. The ‘Wolfe Tone Cup’ was won by the Kerry team by one point.
At the weekend, that match was recalled when Frongoch played host to the All-Britain Junior Football Shield as part of the GAA’s 1916 commemorations.
On Saturday, GAA president Aogan O Fearghail presented the specially commissioned Wolfe Tone Cup trophy to Hertfordshire, who defeated Yorkshire by 3-11 to 1-3.
Speaking ahead of the match, Mr O Fearghail said it was “fitting” that a game should once again be staged in Frongoch as part of the GAA’s 1916 commemorations.
“Football was very much to the fore with a large number of those held there and could be viewed as an expression of their cultural identity, in addition to being a vehicle for keeping the men fit and active,” he said.
While detained in Frongoch, the internees organised inter-hut and inter-county competitions which were all played on a football field that the internees dubbed ‘Croke Park’. Locals in the Welsh village still refer to the field by this name.
Alan Milton, the GAA’s head of communications, said that the GAA was currently deciding whether the presentation of the Wolfe Tone Cup should be a one-off to mark the centenary of the famous match a century ago or whether it would now continued to be played for on an annual basis.
One of those attending the match was Fr Tom Looney, who has written extensively on his relative, Kerry captain Dick Fitzgerald, after whom Fitzgerald stadium in Killarney was named.
Councillor Alwyn Jones, who now lives on and farms the land in Frongoch, said that each player placed a piece of grass from ‘Croke Park’ into the box with their medals as a tribute to the men interned there in 1916. The Proclamation was read out by piper Cormac Bowell during the interval.