“No menial in a minister’s house gets such a quality and I defy them to contradict it”

Irish MP and internee William Cosgrave disliked the food on offer in Reading Prison. His letter of complaint was intercepted by the official censor.

7.10.18
W T Cosgrove
P of I Reading

To Mrs B Burke
174 James St
Dublin

Complaint of prison treatment
Extract

I regret to have to complain of the diet. No menial in a minister’s house gets such a quality and I defy them to contradict it. They actually depend [on] us getting food from Ireland. I reported to the Dr that I did not use what was supplied and he enquired did I not get some from home.

They know I do not use it and just continue sending it on and then examining professionally the victim. I shall not submit to a further examination by the Dr for the benefit of experimentation. I have already been twice subjected to this foolery.


Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

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Full of political excitement

The Reading Prison doctor was unimpressed by claims of ill health among Irish internees.

Sept. 23 18
From the MO to the Governor

Concerning the report of the Secretary to the Prison Commission for a report upon the mental and physical condition of W T Cosgrove.

In the petitions of Laurence Ginnell and Richard Hayes, dated respectively Sept. 11 and Sept 12 1918, I have already dealt with this matter.

I have again carefully examined him today. His mental condition is sound. His physical condition is [illegible]. There are perhaps indefinite signs of some past [illegible] in the left lung but it is quiescent now, and there are no subjective symptoms.

He is full of political excitement and in my presence at all events quite cheerful.

He certainly is not in imminent danger.

W T Freeman

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

“We are all in good health and spirits, thank God”

Supporters of interned Irish MP William Cosgrave were concerned about his health in Reading Prison. Frank Fahy (1879-1953) was another Sinn Fener who would have a distinguished post-independence political career.

HM Prison
Reading

Sep. 12 1918

From the MO to the Governor

Concerning the petition of Richard Hayes about the health of W T Cosgrave I have nothing to add to my remarks concerning the petition of L. Ginnell on the same subject.

I have today however seen a letter signed by Frank Fahy in which he states, “We are all in good health and spirits, thank God. W. Cosgrave, MIP [Member of Irish Parliament] is much improved in appearance, though he continues to qualify for lightweight champion”.

W T Freeman

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

“He goes out to exercise with the others, plays ball with them etc”

Sinn Fein MP William Cosgrave (1880-1932) was one of the most high-profile of the Irish internees in Reading. Laurence Ginnell, another Irish MP, agitated on his behalf.

H M Prison
Reading

Sep. 11 1918

From the MO to the Governor
Concerning the petition of Laurence Ginnell.

W T Cosgrave is in fair health. He is naturally of poor physique and somewhat [illegible – [possibly anaemic?].

I have found in him no actual organic signs of disease.

He goes out to exercise with the others, plays ball with them etc.

He had a moderate attack of influenza on Aug. 25th from which he soon recovered.

W T Freeman

“Irish National Poems were not allowed when they were here before, but I suppose they know them all by heart”

The new Irish internees arrived at Reading – and their books were immediately (and unlawfully) confiscated.

Place of Internment
Reading
27th May 1918

Walter L Cole
William T Cosgrove
Richard Davys
Frank Fahy
Richard Hayes
John Hurley

17.5.18 Chief Secretary for Ireland’s Order, Defence of the Realm Regn (14B) Internment.

Sir.

I have the honour to report that the above named Irish prisoners were received into my custody on Saturday the 25th inst: from HM Prison, Gloucester.
C M Morgan
Governor
[to]
The Under Secretary of State
Home Office
Whitehall
SW

27.5.1918
Place of Internment
Reading

The attached papers & book entitled “Irish National Poems” were taken from the Irish prisoners when they arrived here. They have had them in their possession up to the date of arrival here on Saturday evening. Irish National Poems were not allowed when they were here before, but I suppose they know them all by heart.

[reply]

Please say why these are submittted to the Commissioners. There does not appear to be anything to object to in them.

A J Wall
Sec.
28/5/18

Noted. These were submitted because I cannot read Gaelic. As regards the book of poems, its approval is noted. It was submitted because it was disallowed when the Sinn Feiners were here before – to the best of my belief.

C M Morgan
Gov
30/5/18

The instructions as to their treatment and that they may retain papers &c in their possession was only received today.

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)