Finner’s history is pedigree in status. “In the Middle Ages Finner appears to have been the residence of a Chief who lived on the strategic Finner hill above the old Finner church and graveyard.” So writes Col. Declan O’Carroll in his definitive history of the camp * and who acted as our guide for this field day. Declan is also a former President of the Donegal Historical Society and in his professional career he served in Finner, and also overseas with the Irish Defence Forces.
Our day began in the Officers’ Mess with some light refreshments; then a short walk to the lecture hall where Declan gave us an illustrated history of the camp. And it’s a fascinating history. The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers were based here at the end of the 19th century, training for the Boer War and the Great War. The British handed it over to the Irish authorities in 1922. In 1969 in the aftermath of the Battle of the Bogside, Finner housed refugees from the North.
In more recent decades a major rebuilding programme was completed and today Finner is an impressive sight with its modernity. We walked around the camp and heard historical details of the various locations visited. The panorama is magnificent – everything to please the eye: sea, sand dunes, Ben Bulben in the distance, an unbroken vista of nature at its most scenic. Only the chapel remains from the early days – it too has a most eye-catching interior featuring the stained glass artwork of Irish artist George Walsh. Here our day ended with our President, Dr. Lochlann McGill extending our gratitude to Declan and to 28 Infantry Battalion who all made our visit so enjoyable.
* ” Finner camp – a history” 2007, published by the Defence Forces.