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Dublin: 8 °C Thursday 25 April, 2019
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German POWs were once held at what is now Garda College

New radio doc explores life in Templemore for prisoners during WWI: “Prisoners were free to walk to Mass every Sunday and could purchase cigarettes and chocolate.”

THOUSANDS OF PRISONERS of war were held in internment camps across Ireland during World War 1, but few records remain of their imprisonment.

A documentary to be aired this evening on Tipp FM explores the history of these inmates, who were rounded up the British government as part of a policy of interning  Germans, Austrians, and Hungarians of military age to prevent them from taking part in the War.

This process began with 300 civilians being interned at what is now the Garda College at Richmond Barracks, Templemore, Co Tipperary, before being moved to Oldcastle, Co Meath.

They were eventually moved to England due to a need for larger camps to accommodate POWs captured on mainland Europe.

Prisoners at Templemore Barracks (Image: John Reynolds)

The doc, entitled Turnhalle Barracks – to be broadcast this Sunday at 6pm – details how locals reacted to these foreign visitors, as well as what life was like in the camps on both sides of the Irish Sea.

Tipp FM presenter Tom Hurley told TheJournal.ie that these prisoners were treated well at Templemore, with many eager to stay when faced with a move to Oldcastle. Prisoners were free to walk to Mass every Sunday and could purchase cigarettes and chocolate from a stall set up by a local entrepreneur.

While only two inmates died while in Ireland, both of natural causes, many fell victim to influenza when transferred to Manchester.

Lost records

The records of who stayed in these camps were destroyed in World War 2, and Hurley has spent the past year researching their history through interviews with relatives of inmates and visits to the camps themselves.

He said:

Information was very hard to get. The lack of records is amazing. A lot of people don’t even know that there were Germans in Templemore during the War, not even in Germany.

Sergeant John Reynolds from the Garda College, an expert on the subject who appears in the documentary, is keen to find any memorabilia connected to the camps. It is believed that locals in the area may still have small wooden toys which were carved by the inmates as Christmas presents for local children, which were passed through the fences to them in 1914.

Turnhalle Barracks will be broadcast this evening on TippFM at 6pm. Click here to listen to the station. If you think you may have some memorabilia such as photos, or know of any stories connected to the camps, you can contact john.reynolds@garda.ie.

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About the author:

Nicky Ryan

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