Lincoln Jailbreak | February 1919 | The Irish War of Independence

Lincoln Jailbreak | February 1919 | The Irish War of Independence


Welcome to the Irish Revolution! Last month, in January 1919, the First Dáil,
the revolutionary parliament, was declared and the first major armed attack by Republican
forces took place in Soloheadbeg against a police escort. In Paris, the postwar peace
conference is ongoing and there are hopes among Republican leaders that they’ll get
a fair hearing for the Irish Republic. The President of the Irish Republic, Eamon
de Valera, has been imprisoned in Lincoln jail in England since May 1918. This month Irish Republicans will perform
an audacious operation to break him out of it. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to
the channel and remember to click the bell icon in order to recieve notifications, youtube
is really rubbish at telling subscribers when a new video is uploaded unless you do that. And a personal note, my voice is a little hoarse today, I’m getting over a little flu Most of today
will cover the jailbreak of Eamon de Valera and what he did once he returned to Ireland.
I know some of you will expect there to be talk of shootings and whatnot but the truth
of it is that there just wasn’t all that much activity in 1919. The violence ramped up dramatically
in 1920. We’re a good year away from talking about the so called Tan War and the IRA campaign.
At the very end I’ll talk about the brewing intelligence war with Michael Collins. Anyway,
I hope De Valera’s jailbreak will keep you interested. It’s known as de Valera’s jailbreak
from Lincoln but it involved two other Republican prisoners as well – Seán McGarry and Seán
Milroy. At the suggestion of Gustavth1 I’m going to
open each episode with a mini biography of the main characters of each episode. This
month will predominately feature three figures who would go on to be instrumental during
the revolutionary period – Eamon de Valera, Michael Collins & Harry Boland. Eamon De Valera Dev was one of the leaders of the 1916 rising,
a signatory of the 1916 proclamation of the Irish Republic. He was not executed due to
his American connections. He would go on to become the President of the self declared
Republic and was perhaps the best known of the Republican figures at this time and would
soon become internationally famous, particularly in the USA where he would spend much of the
War of Independence, raising money and trying to garner the energy of the Irish-American movement there Michael Collins Likely you’ve all heard of Michael Collins
but a few words in case you haven’t. The big fellow was perhaps the best known of the revolutionary
generation. Hey, he has his own biopic afterall, featuring a young Liam Neeson. They said he
had the Irish Republic all in his head. Although a minor figure in the 1916 Easter Rising he
came to prominence during his imprisonment in Frongoch in Wales and later became the
indispensible Republican, leading the secretive Irish Republican Brotherhood organisation
and de-facto was in charge of or at least called most of the shots at general headquarters
of the Irish Volunteers. He led the intelligence war with the British, crippling their ability
to generate military intelligence on the island. Harry Boland If you’ve seen the Michael Collins film you’ll
know Harry Boland as Michael Collin’s friend (and rival in a love triangle) He was a senior
Republican at the time and later went on to accompany Eamon de Valera on his voyage to
America. When he was there he helped co-ordinate the tour and he helped purchase some arms, some weapons for the IRA. De Valera was initially the brains behind the thing. He had got an impression of the
Chaplain’s master key in late November and alerted Dublin by alluding to a Christmas
card from Seán McGarry which depicted a large key drawn by Seán Milroy. The first three
messages sent to Dublin were perhaps overly subtle, written as they were in English, Latin
or Irish. De Valera was already famous for the subtlely of his language and for less
discerning minds he was often a confusing fellow to converse with, perhaps a slippery
sort of fella. By the fourth message Dublin seemed to have gotten the message and three
keys were produced, two sent to England to be baked into a cake and the last kept by
Harry Boland. Michael Collins and Harry Boland went to England
to personally supervise the jailbreak. But it would not have happened at all without
the assistence of a man called Fintan Murphy, who you’ve likely never heard of. Personally speaking I just like to give a few words to lads like himself. They pop up here and there and you never hear or see them again and it’s good to immortalise them a wee bit. to remember them. they all played a wee part in the revolution. Murphy carried
one of the four cakes with the jail keys that were used in the escape – yes, just like
the old cartoon they used keys hidden in cakes – and acquired a rope ladder and brought
it from London to Collins and Boland in Manchester. He ran the control center from Worksop, from
where he controlled a network of safe houses where they’d be able to hide de Valera until
he was able to return to Ireland. There was a bit of bother with the keys and
the whole operation took longer than originally planned. But eventually, on the night of the
3rd February Collins and Boland cut through the perimeter wire while de Valera and Seán
Milroy and Seán McGarry let themselves out with duplicate keys. Everyone got away without
the prison staff noticing. De Valera himself disparaged the security arrangements of the
prison. The operation itself was not without its difficulties.
Collins broke one of the keys on the outer gate of the prison. De Valera had his own
key from the inside and pushed out the shank, turned it, and made his getaway with a fur-lined
coat supplied by Harry Boland. Perhaps dressed as a prostitute, we’ll leave that to your
imagination. The jailbreak was audacious and a great Republican
propaganda triumph. According to David Fitzpatrick, it ‘only later emerged that de Valera’s
‘great fear’ was that he would be released before having the opportunity to escape.’
, implying that he was going to be released anyway and that the operation was
pointless. Nonetheless, the success of the jailbreak would go on to inspire countless
other jailbreak attempts over the coming years. INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION De Valera had returned to Ireland clandestinely
on the 20th February. Collins had originally wanted a great parade but in the end this
was considered ill-advised. De Valera’s first act upon his return was to conduct an interview
that would then be published by 700 newspapers in the United States. De Valera was very clearly
attuned to the importance of American public opinion on Britain and how the Irish with
their unique political power there could exert a type of influence on American foreign policy.
Ralph F. Couch, the American journalist, was taken to meet de Valera blindfolded. The interview
consisted of ‘one comprehensive question the reply to which Mr de Valera wrote with
his own hand’. Even this was slightly amended the following day. This was no real
interview, no real dialogue. De Valera and Boland developed the ideas explored in this
interview into a statement of Ireland’s case to be presented to the Paris Peace Conference,
which was ongoing at this time. When it was eventually published on the 12th March it
caused some controversy as it explicitly condoned violence as a last resort. It was clear that the War of Independence
was underway. Intelligence War I just want to say a few words before we leave,
something I overlooked last month– the intelligence war. Something huge happened in January 1919.
Ned Broy met Michael Collins in that month. Ned Broy was an official typist at the G spy
division headquarters in Great Brunswick Street. In his own words he Broy was a confidential typist and had access
to all kinds of invaluable documents. When he felt he had a useful document for Collins,
he would insert a piece of carbon and make an extra copy for him.He would pass these
on to Collins in weekly meetings he had along with the older double agent, Joe Kavanagh,
a 60 year old G man who had taken part in identifying leaders of the Easter Rising and
had clearly lived to regret it. Just as an aside, the historian Diarmuid Ferriter suggests
there was some kind of homo erotic fascination that Ned Broy had with Michael Collins. Reading
some of Broy’s comments it’s rather hard to disagree with that point of view. He was a bit too fan-boy like Part of the genius of Collins, and the volunteers,
was recognising that there were plenty of Republicans within the police or the Dublin
Castle administration. Rather than allowing them to resign, as many had wanted to, Collins
preferred them to stay in place and feed him information. This happened to a lesser extent
down the country, but it did happen. and it’s one of the reasons why the campaign turned out to be successful. Thanks so much for watching! Please remember
to subscribe, and if you liked the video consider liking it, this helps with the youtube algorithim.

7 thoughts on “Lincoln Jailbreak | February 1919 | The Irish War of Independence”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *