2008-04-15-2019-03-26 --- 2019-03-26 06:45:41--00
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LOT :626
Estimate EUR : €30,000.00 - €50,000.00
Auction Date : 15-04-2008


Michael Collins An important letter to his Republican colleague Austin Stack in Belfast Jail, proposing arrangements for his escape. 4 pp (three lined sheets), in ink, dated 30.3.[19]19, addressed to 'A', in Collins' hand throughout and signed twice with his initial 'M'. Fold marks, last leaf a little rubbed, but generally in very good condition. A most remarkable letter, written in plain language throughout. 'We did another job on Mountjoy last Saturday - twenty men are out and safe. This about finishes us with that jail for the moment. We now go for Belfast. If we got a hacksaw or a few files into you would these enable you to do any good .. My suggestion would be .. that you cut your bars so as to enable you to leave your cells at a time when we would have either a ladder for the wall, or if that .. is not practicable we would make a breach. This latter would be extremely difficult from the mere point of explosives alone. However we may secure some gun cotton, which is almost the only stuff which would be effective .. Think this over and let us have your opinion ..' Letters on operational matters from Collins are usually couched in heavily veiled or coded language. In view of the very plain speaking here, he must have arranged to deliver the letter through an absolutely secure channel. In the event, Stack probably did not receive it, as he was transferred to Strangeways Prison in Manchester around the same date. He eventually escaped from there in October, after Collins personally visited him in jail to make the arrangements. There were in fact two Republican escapes from Mountjoy in March 1919. On March 16th, Collins smuggled a file in to Bob Barton (later a Treaty signatory), and got him over the wall using a rope ladder. A few days later, in broad daylight, he brought out Piaras Beaslai, Pat Fleming and eighteen other men using the same method. While the escape was in progress, other Republican prisoners held the warders at bay using spoons in their pockets to simulate guns. No wonder Collins was cock-a-hoop. Austin Stack, from Tralee, was a founder-member of the Irish Volunteers. In April 1916 he was arrested in Kerry after Casement's landing. He was released in June 1917, but was again arrested in August. He led several hunger strikes in support of claims for political status, doing permanent damage to his health. In 1918 he was commandant of Republican prisoners in Belfast Jail, during a period when they took control of the jail for several days. At this time he was a close associate of Michael Collins, although he later supported De Valera and opposed the Treaty. With a copy of a biographical booklet on Austin Stack. Provenance: Sold at Mealy's, Dublin, Dec. 1991, lot 575, where bought by present vendor.

Hammer Price : €70,000.00
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