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The Catalpa Rescue

Director: Lisa Sabina-Harney

Ireland • 2007 • 56 mins


In 1868, the HMS Hougemont embarked on its final voyage as a British convict ship. In its hold, 329 of Britains ‘most depraved’ criminals and 63 ‘Fenian’ prisoners. They could only expect a slow and painful death in the Western Australian prison of Fremantle, held secure on one side by the shark infested Indian Ocean and the impassable desert on the other. The Catalpa Rescue is as much a thriller as a riveting record of a little-known episode in Irish history. The extraordinary escape plan involved conspiracies in three continents, infiltration of the British Army, the theft of sailing charts, the disguise of a Fenian hero as a wealthy American businessman fit to dine with the Governor of Fremantle, and the purchase of the 200-ton whaling ship from Massachusetts. This vessel took on the might of the British Navy, got caught in the act, and still made good its escape. It is preserved as one of the greatest coups in Irish political history and one of the greatest embarrassments to the British crown.

If you can’t see this, try Jack Doyle: A Legend Lost (Sat. 11am) or Flight of the Earls (Friday 9pm)
The Catalpa Rescue will be broadcast on RTE in October.

Festival ticket bundles are available directly from the box office.
€40 for 5. €70 for 10.
Please phone 01 679 3477.

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