18 March 2010 Edition

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TG4 launches second Éalú series

Éalú opens with one of the most astonishing escapes in prison history when the “M60 gang” went through the front gates of Belfast’s Crumlin Road Jail in 1981

Éalú opens with one of the most astonishing escapes in prison history when the “M60 gang” went through the front gates of Belfast’s Crumlin Road Jail in 1981

A new drama-documentary series reliving the stories behind six of Ireland’s greatest prison escapes, as told by the men and women who conceived, planned, and executed these daring bids for freedom, begins on TG4 on Thursday 8 April.
Éalú (Escape) returns for a second series following the widely acclaimed first series in 2004. These documentaries promise to uncover some of the most high profile escapes from Irish prisons during the last century.
Shot on location in a number of Irish prisons, the makers say that the “dramatic reconstructions and first-hand accounts will bring the viewer right to the coalface of the action: we will feel the tension as the big day approaches for the prisoners; we will be alongside them as their best laid plans come unstuck, and we will get a vicarious ride in the getaway car as they taste freedom for the first time...”
The series opens with one of the most astonishing escapes in prison history, when eight armed IRA prisoners known as the “M60 gang” escaped through the front gates of Belfast’s Crumlin Road Jail in 1981. This is a high-octane and dramatic opening programme in which two of the escapees who spearheaded the escape reveal in detail the planning and execution of this bewildering escape for the first time.
In the second episode, we meet Linda Kearns, a native of Sligo, who was one of the first women to escape from prison in Ireland. With the aid of some dental wax and a cunning decoy, she and three of her female comrades escaped over the wall of Mountjoy Jail in 1920.
Programme 3 sees Kilkenny native Richard Behal defeat the system by escaping from Limerick Prison in 1966, armed only with some hacksaw blades, his butter rations, and bed sheets tied together. On the night of his escape a timely distraction was unintentionally provided by the governor of the prison, who was hosting a party for his daughter’s 21st birthday in the prison grounds.
The searchlight is shone on ‘Ireland’s Alcatraz’ in programme 4, as it dramatically reconstructs the story of IRA man Tom Malone’s audacious escape from Spike Island prison in 1921.
Programme 5 features Ruairí Ó Brádaigh and Daithí Ó Conaill’s perilous escape from the internment camp at the Curragh during the Border Campaign in 1958 camouflaged as cut grass. Ó Brádaigh offers a first hand account of how they planned and carried out their escape and how luck played a part in its execution.  
The series concludes with a story of betrayal: John O’Reilly, a native of County Clare, was interned in Arbour Hill Prison in 1943 on suspicion of spying for the Nazis.   He escaped from the jail to his native Kilkee only to be betrayed by his father for the £500 reward.
The first episode will be screened at 10.15pm on Thursday 8 April.

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