Wednesday 21 October 2015: Col Declan O’Carroll: Finnar Camp
Colonel O’Carroll began by explaining that the bit of the camp which can be seen from the road between Ballyshannon and Bundoran is only a small part of a site which stretches back to the coastline and in total covers 731 acres. The site was purchased by the British Government from local landowners in the 1890’s as a training ground on which to prepare soldiers for the Boer War. In 1914 it was greatly extended as a training base for troops destined for the trenches of the Western Front. In the run up to the First World War 3 battalions of the Royal Inniskillen Fusiliers were stationed in Finner Camp, housed under canvas in conditions which in winter were far from comfortable. Most were volunteers, patriotic young men who enlisted to fight for King and Country, buoyed up by the belief that the war would be over by Christmas. Four years later the vast majority of them would lie in Flanders fields having died gallantly at the Somme, Messines and Ypres. With the passing of the Home Rule Bill in 1922 Finner Camp was handed over to the IRA. On 22 February the Union Jack was lowered for the last time and the tricolour raised by an honour guard led by Lt Jack O’Carroll, father of the guest speaker.