The Joy, the Bog, and the Bold: The explosive, untold story....

The Joy, the Bog, and the Bold: The explosive, untold story....

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The Joy, the Bog, and the Bold

By Ed Schoppman

The Incident

The small sedan carrying the two Irish Republican Army operatives headed to a safehouse in Dublin. Behind the wheel, the driver was thinking about what had happened not 12 hours prior when he had helped pull off one of the biggest armed robberies in recent memory. It was a post office job that for 1973 netted £40,000 in cash - quite impressive for 1973 and equal to about $500,000 today. He had been careful to borrow the car he was now driving and park it far from the scene of the daring heist. With their adrenaline dissipating, the two IRA men relaxed a bit, not expecting any trouble.

It's been said that frying pans without fires are far between. When the two men pulled up to a random Gardaí (police) checkpoint, they had no idea that a search would uncover six loose rounds of .22 LR ammo under the back seat. Both knew immediately that they were screwed. In 1970s Ireland, the possession of such an “arsenal” required a license, which of course neither of them had. The car’s owner held the proper license, but sadly he was not present to defuse the situation. Long story short, they were immediately arrested and remanded in custody to Dublin’s Mountjoy prison, known to the IRA as “The Joy.”

No one could have guessed that a couple of badge-heavy cops and a handful of rimfire ammo would set in motion a roller coaster chain of events. It would lead directly to two of the most insanely spectacular prison breaks in history and fuel the rise of a 21-year-old IRA commander who had a natural talent for analysis, planning and execution. This decisive and intelligent young man would become an accomplished leader, carry out both prison breaks in less than a year, embarrass the hell out of the government, and inspire two banned but chart-topping folk songs to boot. Much later, he would write a book about it all, titled “Up Like a Bird”. 

His name is Brendan Hughes, and his story is one of transformation from an apolitical, everyday guy into a passionate guerilla operative and an expert covert organizer. His audacious acts redefined the word bold……


NOTE: This story is based on the amazing true story in Up Like a Bird by Brendan Hughes and Douglas Dalby, an absolutely thrilling book available at:  Up Like A Bird – The Rise and Fall of an IRA Commander 

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