Internment, Imprisonment and Escape - Jailbreak
Keys, Lincoln Jail escape, February 1919
Keys, Lincoln Jail escape, February 1919Keys used in the Lincoln Jail escape, February 1919.
When members of the First Dáil were elected in January 1919, one of its decisions was to appoint three envoys to place Ireland’s claim to freedom before the Peace Conference in Paris – the chosen delegates were Eamon de Valera, Arthur Griffith and Count Plunkett; all of whom were in English prisons, detained under a regulation of the Defence of the Realm Act. It became imperative that they be broken out of prison, with Michael Collins and Harry Boland leading the plan of escape. There had previously been some failed attempts using smuggled keys, so supplies of keys, blanks, files, key cutting tools – all smuggled into the jail in fruit cakes – were passed to IRA prisoner Paddy de Loughrey to make the master key which led to Eamon de Valera, Seán McGarry and Seán Milroy’s escape on 4th February 1919.
These keys were some of the many used in the Lincoln Jail escape. They had been given to Willie McMahon by Harry Boland within a couple of days of the escape, who returned it to de Valera some years later.
Keys, Lincoln Jail escape, February 1919 is located at: