Ballykinlar Internment Camp was the first mass internment camp to be established by the British in Ireland during the War of Independence. Situated on the County Down coast and opened in December 1920, it became home to hundreds of Irish men arrested by the British, often on little more than the suspicion of involvement in the IRA. Held for up to a year, and subjected to often brutal treatment and poor quality food in an attempt to break them both physically and mentally, the interned men instead established a small community within the camp. The knowledge and skills possessed by the diverse inhabitants were used to teach classes, and other activities, such as sports, drama and music lessons, helped stave off boredom. In the midst of all these activities the internees also endeavoured to defy their captors with various plans for escape. The story of the Ballykinlar internment camp is on the one hand an account of suffering, espionage, murder and maltreatment, but it is also a chronicle of survival, comradeship and community.
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