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Internment, Imprisonment and Escape - Jailbreak

Sock, Eamon de Valera escape from Lincoln Prison, February 1919

Sock, Eamon de Valera escape from Lincoln Jail, February 1919

This sock was used in the escape of prisoners from Lincoln Jail in Fenruary 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.
This ‘sock’ is actually a sock and the sleeve of a jumper sewn together, worn over de Valera’s boots to quieten his footstep as he walked across the exercise yard to escape from Lincoln Prison.  



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Keys, Lincoln Jail escape, February 1919

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Eamon de Valera, Lincoln Jail escape of 1919, 1970

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