Day 78 Danny Donnelly (Photo A Day 2012)

This is Danny Donnelly originally from Omagh Co Tyrone but who has lived in Dublin for many years. I spent a lovely day with Danny and his wife Caitríona at the All Ireland Club Football and Hurling finals in Croke Park on Saturday. We were lucky enough to see two great games with an historic win for Loughgiel Shamrocks hurling team from Antrim, and   a draw between Crossmaglen of Armagh and Garrycastle of Westmeath.

I took this picture at the launch of Danny’s Book,Prisoner 1082″ Escape From Crumlin Road, Europe’s Alcatraz, a few months back in Dublin Castle. Also in the picture is the renowned Irish artist Robert Ballagh who was a guest of honour.

The book details how on St Stephen’s Day 1960 Danny made his dramatic escape from the prison known as Europe’s Alcatraz The Crumlin Road Belfast. Using hack-saw blades, torn sheets and electric flex, Donal broke out of Crumlin Road Prison, running the gauntlet of searchlights, alarms and machine-gun nests. Three years earlier, as a teenage he had been convicted of membership of the IRA in the first year of Operation Harvest. He was sentenced to ten years. As 12,000 Ulster police and B Specials pursued him, nationalists and republicans gave him shelter and support. In the book he reflects on why he came to be on top of a prison wall risking his life. He describes the penal conditions in Northern Ireland and outlines in detail how the IRA operated in that period. He charts his later involvement in business, his search for justice for the marginalised and his friendship with the republican agitator and author Peadar O Donnell. This is the story of a man who overcame the hurdles of his early years to live a successful, happy life.

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