Nineteen men


There’s Nineteen men a-missing and they didn’t use the door
Just blew a little hole where there wasn’t one before
The army and the gardai are searching high and low
For the men from Portlaoise prison who have vanished like the snow

On the eighteenth day of August in the good year ’74
A blast occurred in Portlaoise town that was heard through every door
And when the smoke and dust had cleared there rose a merry cheer
For those within who helped to plan the jailbreak of the year

The word to Dublin quickly spread and on the news ’twas said
That special branch detectives would soon capture those who fled
And then appeared upon this land checkpoints with soldiers armed
Who vowed to capture those who caused the Minister such alarm

To Ireland’s rebel country these brave men made quick escape
To a quiet town called Gorey the boys sat down and dined in state
And now I hear there’s plans afoot with mortar brick and stone
To build a brand new prison and to call it Provo home


Shortly after noon on Sunday, 18 August 1974, prisoners overpowered warders in the main cell block in Portlaoise Prison, climbed out onto a low roof and quickly made their way across the prison grounds. As the general alert was sounded, the men dashed seven yards to the Governor’s residence where they placed their first explosive charge at a gate leading to the prison walls. A second charge was then planted in an iron doorway and within seconds the republicans were outside the prison. After a 100-yard dash through fields and bushes,the escapees reached Borris Road where they commandeered cars and made their final dash to freedom.
The 19 who escaped were Michael and Seán Kinsella, Kevin and Martin McAllister, Oliver McKiernan, Brian Hearty, Tony Weldon, Tom McFeeley, Seán Morris, Pat Thornbury, Michael Nolan, Kevin Mallon, Ian Milne, Thomas McGinty, Eddie Gallagher, William Brown, Sammy O’Hare, Paddy Joe Devenney and Francis Bernard Hughes. Within hours, all were in safe houses throughout the 26 Counties.

Written by Dermot Hegarty to the air of ‘The rising of the moon’.

Song Clip



Song Themes

The Troubles