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War Stories
HostageRTÉ One, Friday, 8.30pm

Programme Two

The Lord, The Lady & The I.R.A.

In the Summer of 1974, a maverick I.R.A. unit kidnapped Lord and Lady Donoughmore from their home near Clonmel.  

This was a desperate attempt to influence official policy on the on-going hunger strike in British jails. Five I.R.A. prisoners, including the Price sisters, were at death’s door after more than two hundred days without food, and one hunger striker had already died. The prisoners were seeking repatriation and political status.   

Following the abduction, a major police and army search was launched, causing problems for other covert I.R.A. activists and their leadership. Meanwhile, the people of Clonmel came out in force to register their protest at the mistreatment of a popular local couple.   

For whatever reasons, Lord and Lady Donoughmore were released after four days, impressing everybody with the plucky humour they showed immediately after their release. Lord Donoughmore’s racily-written account of the ordeal reveals both the moments of terror, and the surprising rapport, between the hostages and their kidnappers.   

The Donoughmores are no longer alive, so their son, Mark Hely Hutchinson, tells their story. Also included are excerpts from Lord Donoughmore’s own account. Eyewitness Joe Phelan, whose family worked on the Donoughmores’ estate at the time, and was roughed up during the kidnap, tells of his memories of the night. And journalist & author Paul Howard, who has written about the kidnap, provides the wider context.

 

Lord and Lady Donoughmore
Lord and Lady Donoughmore
Donoughmores after release
Donoughmores after release
Joe Phelan and father
Joe Phelan and father