BY HELEN RIDDELL
A FILM has been launched to commemorate the centenary of Bere Island’s internment camp, documenting the history of the camp, its internees and some daring escapes.
In 1920, a prison camp was opened on Bere Island at the Fort Berehaven military camp, for convicted Republican prisoners. By April 1921, all convicted prisoners had been transferred to the prison on Spike Island, and the camp on Bere Island became an internment camp only.
At one stage 284 men were interned on Bere Island.
The camp closed on December 10th 1921 following the signing of the Anglo Irish Treaty.
Bere Island Projects Group received funding of €5,500 from the Heritage Council’s Community Heritage Grant Scheme to produce the 32-minute film.
The film features leading War of Independence expert Dr John Borgonovo of University College Cork and Bere Island historian Ted O’Sullivan and was filmed by Balooz Films, based in Allihies.
A spokesperson for Bere Island Projects Group said: ‘We had hoped to hold a major event on the island to mark the centenary of the camp, however, at the beginning of this year, with the uncertainty surrounding Covid-19 restrictions we felt it would be best to make a film about the camp. Also the film allows us to reach a larger audience, and tell the story of a major part of the island’s military history.’
Bere Island was once a strategic military base for the British Admiralty who constructed seven gun batteries on the island. Its safe harbour provided shelter during World War One for British warships and also the US Navy while protecting Atlantic convoys. Fort Berehaven, Bere Island was one of Ireland’s three treaty ports. The handover of the fort to the Irish Government took place September 26th 1938.
The film is available to view on www.bereisland.net
Bere Island Projects Group also hopes to have a screening on the island later this year.