There are in all probability no prisons constructed which by no means had an escape or tried escape and Spike Island, though in the midst of a harbour, was no exception.
The primary escape from the island befell in daylight on April 29. Three prisoners have been concerned: Sean MacSwiney (brother of Terence) and Cornelius Twomey, each from Cork Metropolis, and Tom Malone, alias Sean Forde, from Tyrrellspass, Co Westmeath, who was lively with the IRA in Co Limerick.
Of the three prisoners, it was most necessary to free Malone as a result of the British authorities weren’t conscious that he was much-wanted IRA man ‘Sean Forde’.
“He made a repute for himself in east Limerick for attacking RIC barracks,” says Spike Island historian Tom O’Neill. “He rapidly rose in significance on the crown [British] forces most wished checklist, beneath his alias Sean Forde. Unknown to the British authorities, Malone/Forde had been arrested by Auxiliary police in Cork Metropolis on Christmas morning, 1920, when he gave his actual identify, Tom Malone.”
A plan was hatched to rescue Malone from Spike. The jail chaplain, Fr Callanan, conveyed the escape particulars between the IRA in Cobh and the prisoners. The date and time set for the rescue was 10am to 11am on April 29.
The three prisoners volunteered to help within the upkeep of the British military golf course on the island, guaranteeing they have been exterior the safety of the fort.
“On the morning of the deliberate escape, Comdt Michael Burke, officer commanding the Cobh Firm of the IRA, assembled a rescue get together and secured a ship for the mission,” says Mr O’Neill. “When the boat reached Spike, the prisoners have been in place and dealing on the golf course. There was a sentry armed with a rifle and stuck bayonet, a sergeant and a corporal, each unarmed, guarding the prisoners. The launch moved into place and the occupants pretended to be fishing.”
The lawnmower being utilized by the prisoners had damaged down they usually have been pretending to restore it. This gave Malone the chance to steal a hammer.
“Instantly, the prisoners sprung into motion as Malone attacked the armed sentry,” says Mr O’Neill. “He grabbed his rifle and hit him twice within the head with the hammer and the sentry collapsed, fatally wounded. The opposite two prisoners overpowered the 2 troopers and compelled them right into a hole within the floor and tied them up. The boat was introduced in close to the shore and the three prisoners jumped aboard.
“The plan was to take the boat to Paddy’s Block, the closest level on the mainland close to Ringaskiddy. Nonetheless, seaweed had been ingested into the water consumption pipe of the engine and the boat barely moved. Ultimately, the boat was beached close to Paddy’s Block, the IRA males and the three prisoners rapidly made their method to the village of Ringaskiddy. The Cobh males returned house utilizing a mix of ferry, rowing boat and practice.”
Inside a couple of days, Malone was safely again in east Limerick and the 2 Cork males have been again of their districts. The escape plan had labored to perfection.
On Could 31, internee Captain Patrick White was fatally shot on Spike Island by a British sentry whereas taking part in hurling.
Internees have been permitted to play hurling and soccer on the parade floor each night. To allow them to take part, the British sentries would enable them out of their compound, through a gate within the fence, main on to the parade floor.
At roughly 5.45 pm on Could 31, White was taking part in hurling with fellow internees on the parade floor, when the sliotar rolled beneath the barbed wire fence that separated the parade floor from the internment compound.
White rushed over to the wire to retrieve the sliotar and was nearly instantly shot by a sentry, Pte Whitehead. The navy physician arrived and rendered first help to the dying internee.
Fr Callanan, was additionally rapidly on the scene and administered the final rites of the Catholic Church on the dying volunteer.
White was eliminated by stretcher from the scene of the capturing to the jail hospital, the place he died at roughly 7.20pm.
His physique remained in a single day in A Block, Hut 1, surrounded by a guard of honour of his fellow internees. At 8.30am the next day, his physique was eliminated to the jail chapel, the place Mass was stated for the repose of his soul.
After Mass, his physique was introduced again to Hut 1, the place it remained guarded by volunteers.
On June 3, a navy courtroom of inquiry in lieu of an inquest was held on Spike Island to analyze the circumstances into White’s dying. Whitehead was the primary witness.
He said “that his orders have been to fireplace at any internee tampering with the wire. The deceased was stretching out his hand by the wire to get a ball. In accordance with my orders I fired at him and hit.”
The navy case was that the sentries got written orders to fireplace on any internee, with out warning, after they noticed them interfering with the wire.
IRA internee Richard O’Connell was a type of hurling with White. He stated: “We have been out this present day hurling and the ball went into the wire. Paddy White rushed over to tug the ball out with the hurley. If he received by that wire, it will have been into his personal hut, which was nothing to do with escaping from the place. The subsequent factor was the soldier on sentry responsibility put up his rifle and shot White useless. We didn’t know on the time that there had been an ambush in Cork and that 5 – 6 of this regiment had been killed. This was their revenge.”
The 2 foremost findings of the navy courtroom of inquiry have been that the deceased was himself accountable, in as a lot as he tampered with the wire surrounding the compound in defiance of orders, and that no blame hooked up to Whitehead, who fired on the deceased within the execution of his responsibility, or to the navy authorities.
It was additionally determined that when internees have been taking part in soccer or hurling on the parade floor, an internee could be designated to retrieve the ball from the wire and that internee would put on a white coat to establish him to the sentries.
The commanding officer of the seventeenth Brigade in Victoria Barracks, colonel-commandant Higginson, concluded, nonetheless, “that whereas Pte Whitehead had adopted orders, he displayed gross stupidity within the interpretation of the order. That the sentry was conscious that the deceased was trying to get a ball and was not evidently tampering with the wire with any intention of escaping and that it was due to this fact, fairly pointless for him to have fired.”
Early on the morning of Could 31, the day White was killed, the IRA detonated a roadside bomb beside the band of the Hampshire Regiment on the outskirts of Youghal, east Cork.
The band was main an organization from the regiment from the military barracks in Youghal in direction of the capturing vary west of the city for capturing observe.
“When the clouds of mud settled, some 20 males and boys have been seen mendacity on the bottom and pitiful groans and cries for assist have been heard,” says Mr O’Neill. “Seven members of the band have been killed or died of their wounds.”
On Friday, June 3, White’s physique was carried by fellow internees from the chapel to the pier. His coffin was taken to Cobh railway station and from there to his hometown, Meelick, Co Clare, for burial.
A plaque commemorating White’s dying was unveiled on Spike Island in 1957 by Minister for Agriculture Sean Moylan, himself a former republican prisoner on Spike throughout 1921.
Republican prisoners held on Spike Island, Co Cork, had been arrested for his or her involvement in assaults on British forces in 1921. The next are examples of a few of these assaults.
An RIC patrol was ambushed at Glenwood, close to Sixmilebridge, Co Clare. An RIC sergeant, two constables, and two Black and Tans have been killed in that ambush.
The native IRA ambushed a mixed British military and RIC patrol at Poynstown, between Killenaule and Gortnahoe, Co Tipperary. Two British troopers have been killed. Two days later, column commander Jerry Ryan was arrested, convicted, and imprisoned on Spike Island.
Members of the Flying Column of the sixth Battalion, First Cork Brigade, arrange an ambush for British forces, close to Dripsey Bridge, Co Cork. The ambush location was revealed in dialog to an area loyalist girl, Mrs Lindsey. In an uncommon transfer, she despatched a message to the IRA officers accountable for the ambush that she was reporting the ambush to the troops in Ballincollig Barracks.
These within the ambush place have been taken unexpectedly and two IRA males have been killed and 10 captured. 5 have been later executed. Denis Murphy, one of many prisoners, was sentenced to dying, however this was commuted and he was transferred to Spike Island as a prisoner.
The IRA ambushed an RIC patrol at Dromkeen, close to Pallasgreen, Co Limerick. Three RIC constables and eight Black and Tans have been killed.
British troopers from Victoria Barracks (now Collins Barracks) surrounded Rahanisky Home, on the northern facet of Cork Metropolis. Eleven IRA males have been arrested, together with Sean MacSwiney, brother of the late lord mayor. The boys have been convicted and sentenced to lengthy phrases of imprisonment. All have been imprisoned on Spike Island.
At Clonmult, close to Midleton, Co Cork, nearly your entire East Cork flying column was worn out. Just one IRA man escaped. Twelve IRA males have been killed, seven after that they had allegedly surrendered. Two of the eight males captured have been later executed. 5 of the lads captured at Clonmult have been imprisoned on Spike.
The IRA ambushed a British military cell patrol at Clonbanin Cross, on the Mallow to Killarney highway. The commanding officer of the British Military’s Kerry Brigade, Comdt Cumming, Lieut Maligny, and two troopers have been killed.
The flying column of the third South Tipperary Brigade ambushed a British military cell patrol close to Clogheen and two troopers have been killed.
Eight members of the RIC have been killed close to Rathmore, Co Kerry.
Gloucestershire Regiment troops carried out searches in northwest Cork and captured the flying column commander, Sean Moylan who was imprisoned on Spike Island together with others captured.
The IRA in north Tipperary flying column ambushed an RIC bicycle patrol at Kallebeg Cross, Co Tipperary. A Black and Tan and three RIC have been killed.
Whereas the British military oversaw the working of the jail camp, the prisoners and the internees have been allowed autonomy and, certainly, ran their very own compounds. They have been even allowed to attend lectures given by an IRA officer.
“The boys in each hut elected their very own hut chief. The ‘block chief’, as he was identified, was elected from the hut leaders and that was the chain of command inside each compound,” says Tom O’Neill.
Reveille (wake-up) was at 7.30am. Between then and 9am, the internees made their beds, erected tables, washed, and had breakfast.
“At 9am, the primary examine parade of the day occurred, to make sure all have been current and that none had escaped through the night time,” says Mr O’Neill.
“The second parade consisted of a roll name at 2pm. One other examine parade was added at 4.30pm. At roughly 8pm, all able-bodied males have been shaped up in formation in entrance of their huts.
“On the order of their commanding officer, they have been delivered to the place of consideration, ordered to fall out, and march into their huts. This was a message to the British that the lads have been ending their day on the orders of their very own officers.” Whereas the principal problem for the lads was the lack of their freedom, the second was boredom.
Actions have been organised to counter being caught on an island with nothing a lot to do. Soccer and hurling matches have been organized, and concert events have been one other method of passing time.
“Irish-language courses have been additionally highly regarded, with each elementary and superior courses accessible,” says Mr O’Neill. “The chance was additionally availed of for one of many senior IRA males to present lectures of a navy nature.
“One other profitable pastime was making silver jewelry, from cash that have been smuggled into Spike in muffins and bread.” In line with the internees’ nationalistic beliefs, the jewelry usually took the type of Celtic design, together with Tara brooches and engraved with ‘Spike 1921’.
Examples will likely be on show within the Independence museum on Spike.
Mr O’Neill factors out that autograph books have been highly regarded with prisoners and internees.
Surviving autograph books are filled with poetry, reflecting the lads’s love of their nation and their households. Roughly 16 autograph books, some unique and a few copies, are additionally a part of the exhibition.
“Regardless of some conflicts between the clergy and the IRA in the neighborhood, and the specter of excommunication for lively IRA males, a number of surviving written accounts point out the significance of faith to the lads, whereas in jail,” says Mr O’Neill.
“Along with the members of clergy that have been incarcerated with the prisoners, each jail and internment camp had a priest from the native diocese, appointed as a jail chaplain.”
‘Army Jail within the Discipline, Spike Island’ was the peculiarly purposeful identify given to the jail by British forces in 1921.
Sean O’Riordan Spike Island was remodeled into a jail in 1921 due to the substantial enhance within the numbers of convicted republicans and internees within the British military’s sixth Division space.
The official identify for the jail was ‘Army Jail within the Discipline, Spike Island’.
“On February 19, 1921, Spike Island turned a ‘Army Jail within the Discipline’ [MPIF], consisting of an internment compound and a jail compound,” says Spike Island historian Tom O’Neill, including that this transfer was printed within the then Cork Examiner.
On Monday, February 21, the newspaper’s entrance web page contained a small piece from ‘Our Cobh correspondent’, declaring that this new function as an MPIF was along with the garrison’s major function of coastal defence.
“There have been three places inside the fort on Spike Island the place the lads have been held throughout 1921,” says Mr O’Neill.
“The northeast casemates have been used from the very starting for internees. The second location was the ‘A’ Block, on the southwest of the fort, and it was used just for internees. This block was beforehand used as lodging for the British military’s enlisted ranks.” Mr O’Neill says the third location was ‘B’ Block and this consisted of 25 army-built picket huts, used just for internees.
The huts have been constructed through the First World Conflict to offer non permanent lodging for British troops on short-term task to Spike Island.
“The boys usually referred to their room/cell as their ‘hut’,” says Mr O’Neill.
“The huts, within the three places, have been the sleeping quarters, and just by eradicating and stowing their mattress boards and mattresses each morning, they transformed the sleeping quarters into their day room.
“They got tables, consisting of a picket high that fitted on high of two excessive trestles, which could possibly be rapidly cleared to make room for the beds.
“Picket and metal benches have been used for seating.
“On Saturday, February 19, 1921, the primary internees have been transferred to Spike Island and secured within the northeast casemate, beside the place we now have the Gun Park.
“A big proportion of the internees have been from West Cork. Many of the the rest have been from Cork Metropolis, Clare, and Kerry.” On April 1, all of the internees have been moved from the northeast casemates, to A and B Blocks, in preparation for the arrival of the primary republican prisoners from Bere Island.
Throughout April 14 and 15, some 63 internees from Spike Island have been transported to Bere Island, West Cork.
On April 15, the entire convicted republican prisoners have been moved from Bere Island and transferred to Spike Island.
Thereafter, Bere Island was solely used as an internment camp. There have been common transfers of prisoners and internees into and out of Spike Island all through that yr.
Because of the escape of three prisoners from Spike in April 1921, neither prisoners nor internees have been taken exterior the fort on work events. Due to this fact, one other plan to flee was devised.
Within the instant aftermath of the internee riots in September, the internees have been taken out into the dry moat as punishment. With a view to get the internees into the moat from A and B Blocks, the troopers opened up the sally port on the rear of A Block.
The sally port was a sort of tunnel beneath the ramparts main straight into the moat and in design and dimension was fairly much like the casemates.
On the fort facet, the sally port entrance was screened with barbed wire and was bricked up, the within was impediment free and a forged iron gate secured entry from the moat.
Whereas within the moat, the internee employees officers studied the structure of the sally port and recognised its potential for future escape plans.
In early November, when the preparations for the escape try have been full, the primary section of their plan utilizing the sally port was put into motion. The internees complained to the British military that the sally port on the rear of A Block was filled with garbage and infested with rats. They even provided to wash it out.
Having acquired permission from the British military to take action, the internees set to work, eradicating bricks in an effort to achieve entry to the tunnel. This was a part of the larger plan as a result of, by eradicating the bricks, it will allow the escaping internee’s entry to the sally port and it additionally enabled work to be carried out to get by the gate into the moat.
A cat ladder, for scaling the wall out of the moat, had been made out of mild planks, chair rungs, and electrical mild flex.
Lastly, it was agreed that the escape try could be made on the night time of November 10/11, 1921, and 7 internees have been chosen. They have been, Invoice Quirke, Moss Twomey, Tom Crofts, Dick Barrett, Henry O’Mahony, Paddy Buckley, and Jack Eddy.
A bit of after 5pm on November 10, the seven escapees went by the outlet within the wall on the rear of A Block and into the sally port. The stones within the A Block and the bricks and barbed wire have been rapidly put again in place.
They then needed to get throughout the moat at intervals, scale the wall with the cat ladder with out being seen by the sentries on the ramparts. Ultimately, all seven have been exterior the outer wall of the moat.
They made their method cautiously to the shoreline, the place that they had been informed a ship had been beached. Nonetheless, after they discovered the boat, it was far too heavy to elevate or drag to the water. All of the boats close to the pier have been locked.
Within the darkness, they might simply see a ship additional out from the pier. Eddy swam to it, solely to search out it was tied to an anchor with a rope. Silently, he swam out once more and with a pocket knife and begun to chop it.
The knife slipped from his frozen palms and he needed to sever the remaining strands along with his enamel. He pushed the boat ashore and a search revealed a pair of oars and bits of furze branches served as oar locks.
All seven males now piled into the boat and pulled away from the island as rapidly and quietly as attainable to keep away from the searchlights and the motor launch. They got here ashore close to the Belmont military huts, on the east facet of Cobh, at about 10pm.
Their planning and efforts had paid off.
They have been now protected and due to the truce they might not now be rearrested by British forces for escaping from custody.
Spike Island has a protracted and assorted historical past and it’s each vibrant and various.
The primary recorded human occupation was greater than 1,300 years in the past, following the arrival in 635 of a bunch of monks led by St Mochuda, often known as St Cartage.
He established a monastery there and later unfold his affect to the west Waterford city of Lismore, the place the cathedral nonetheless bears his identify.
After the monks left, the island was inhabited and farmed by the Pyke, or Pike, household, till bought on the finish of the 18th century by the British navy to be developed right into a coastal fortification for the defence of Cork harbour.
The prevailing fort on the 104-acre island was constructed between 1803 and 1860, by the British navy.
From round 1790 to 1938, the island was garrisoned by the British military.
Along with the first function of coastal defence, the fort was additionally used as a convict depot, between 1847 and 1883. Throughout this era, it was the largest jail within the British empire.
Lots of these held within the jail have been responsible of probably the most minor crimes, but tens of 1000’s of them have been deported to Australia, many dying on the journey.
Throughout 1916, the fort on Spike Island incarcerated these concerned within the Easter Rising.
Later, through the Conflict of Independence, it turned a jail for Republican internees and prisoners. It was opened on February 19, 1921.
The boys imprisoned there have been nearly completely from the six counties of Munster and from counties Wexford and Kilkenny.
The island was handed over by the British to Eire in 1938 and was used as a base by the Defence Forces. Later, the jail was reopened as a youth correctional facility.
On September 1, 1985, the inmates rioted. In the course of the riot, one of many lodging blocks, Block A, caught fireplace. Order was solely restored after gardaí and an Irish military riot squad arrived.
The jail facility closed in 2004.
The Division of Justice handed it over to Cork County Council in July 2010 and the council set about turning it right into a vacationer attraction, dubbed Eire’s Alcatraz.
The island is now a world-class vacationer vacation spot. In 2017, Spike Island was voted the perfect vacationer attraction in Europe and was runner-up within the worldwide class.
In 2019, the island gained the perfect attraction on the Worldwide Journey and Tourism Awards ceremony.
Many guests don’t realise the quantity of wildlife on the island, which is getting used for the conservation of endangered species. The pink squirrel is being reintroduced to the island, the place it’s protected from the gray squirrel. The Irish hare can be current on Spike Island, and there’s an abundance of pheasants, protected from mainland predators.
For additional info, see spikeislandcork
The martial-law space was the world of operations of the British military’s sixth Division, with headquarters in Victoria Barracks, now Collins Barracks, Cork.
Within the space, the navy authorities had choices for making an attempt civilians for expenses beneath the Restoration of Order in Eire Act, 1920.
“On the decrease finish of the size was the abstract courtroom. This courtroom may impose as much as six months’ imprisonment, with or with out arduous labour; impose a superb as much as £100, or suggest an accused for internment, and even to refer the case for trial by navy courtroom,” says historian Tom O’Neill A district courtroom martial couldn’t impose punishment greater than two years’ imprisonment, with or with out arduous labour. On the high of the size, basic courtroom martials may hand down the dying penalty or penal servitude for all times. Executions have been by firing squad or hanging.
From August 1920, internment was additionally accessible to British authorities all through Eire and never confined to the martial-law space.
“By the early a part of 1921, the overwhelming majority of republicans held in custody have been internees,” says Mr O’Neill. “Internees have been the second class detained on Spike Island. Internees have been suspected republicans that have been arrested, charged, tried, and located not responsible in a navy courtroom and have been, nonetheless, detained as internees. Some internees have been interned on suspicion of republican actions.” Present prisons and navy camps have been initially used for imprisoning and interning republicans within the martial-law space through the Conflict of Independence.
The next imprisoned republicans: Cork Male Gaol, on the western facet of College School Cork; Limerick Civilian Gaol; Waterford Civilian Gaol; Kilkenny Civilian Gaol; Spike Island Army Jail within the Discipline (MPIF), known as the jail compound; Spike Island Internment Camp, known as the internment compound; Bere Island Army Jail within the Discipline and Internment Camp; Kilworth Military Camp (now Lynch Camp, run by the Defence Forces), and Cork Army Detention Barracks.
The closure of the Army Jail within the Discipline befell in mid-November 1921.
On the night time of November 16/17, the final republican prisoners have been moved from Spike Island to Kilkenny Gaol.
On November 18, all of the internees, together with these in hospital, have been handcuffed collectively in pairs and ordered to make their method to Spike pier. After a brief boat journey, the internees disembarked on the Deep Water Quay in Cobh, beside the railway station and boarded the particular practice ready for them for the night time journey to Maryborough (Portlaoise) Jail. The internees and their escorts arrived at Maryborough at 8am the next day. The Spike internment compound was now empty. All of the internees transferred from Spike Island, have been launched from Maryborough Jail on December 8, 1921, following the signing of the Treaty.
All through the nation the convicted Republican prisoners have been releasedfollowing the ratification of the Treaty in January 1922.
“The legacy of the internees and prisoners incarcerated on Spike Island, through the 9 months of 1921, was the securing of Irish independence,” stated Tom O’Neill.