Internment Camps Autograph Books – Online

Two autograph books from the Rath Internment Camp (1921) and Tintown Internment Camp (1923) are now available to view on the County Archive’s website.

Autograph books were kept by many prisoners. They had become a popular item during World War I, used by soldiers to gather signatures of their battalion comrades or fellow prisoners in Prisoner of War camps.   In the Curragh internment camps autograph books provided internees with an outlet in which to express themselves using drawings, poetry and songs. They also contain prisoners’ names, addresses, and date and place of incarceration, providing an informal camp register. Some of the men are well known and rose to national prominence after their release.   These internment camp autograph books are fascinating examples of material culture from the revolutionary period.

The autograph book of Sylvester Delahunt from Tuckmill, Straffan, Co. Kildare was donated to Kildare Local Studies, Genealogy and Archives by his daughter, Áine Delahunt.  Sylvester was arrested on 1 March 1921, at 40 Main Street, Naas and interned in the Rath Camp until December of that year. His autograph book is an invaluable primary source which contains poems and sketches by 29 of his fellow internees.  One of the unique features of Sylvester’s autograph book are the six photographs it contains that he took on a hidden camera while in the Rath Camp.  Another is a water colour painting by Frank Purcell, Cappagh, Kilcock, Co. Kildare, of the famous tunnel escape from the Rath Camp in September 1921.

A second autograph book which is in the County Archives from Tintown Interment Camp (opened April 1923, The Curragh) was donated by Sean Deay, Spratstown, Dunlavin, Co. Wicklow.

Local Studies, Genealogy & Archives Department (February 10, 2023)

More information on the background of the autograph books is available on the Local Studies, Genealogy & Archives Department’s history blog ‘eHistory‘ at AUTOGRAPH BOOKS. RATH CAMP (1921) & TINTOWN CAMP (1923)