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Internment, Imprisonment and Escape - Jailbreak

Dummy pistol, Mountjoy Jail escape, 1919-21

Dummy pistol, Mountjoy Jail escape, 1919-21

In 1919 a cartoon postcard called ‘The Back Way’ was published in Dublin, with an illustration of a small boy asking the guard at the gates of Mountjoy Jail if he knew ‘there’s a back way in your place’ and an illustration of heavy artillery pointing at the closely guarded front gate while a stream of IRA prisoners flood over the back wall. This was referring to the daytime jailbreak of 20 men, when Michael Collins organised the rescue of J.J. Walsh, Piaras Beasla√≠ and Patrick Fleming by throwing a rope ladder over the wall into the exercise yard – the three men were quickly followed by 17 more.   Mountjoy had experienced few escapes until the influx of political prisoners during the War of Independence, when it became the scene of many jailbreaks such as the escape of Robert Barton in March 1919, seven men disguised as Auxiliaries in November 1921, and the escape of Linda Kearns, Eithne Coyle, Eileen Keogh and Mae Burke in October 1921.  This carved wooden model of an automatic pistol was used in one of the escapes from Mountjoy between 1919 and 1921. It was found after one such escape outside the jail by a prison guard. It is not known which of the many Mountjoy jailbreaks this was used in. 
 

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Cartoon postcard, Mountjoy Prison escape, 1919


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Mountjoy Hunger Strikers, April 1920


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