The Belfast Prison Diaries of Eamonn Boyce 1956-1962
Publication Date: November 2007
Treason Felony dates back to the Young Irelanders of 1848. In December 1954, for his part in an arms raid on Omagh army barracks, Dublin man Eamonn Boyce was convicted on three counts of this archaic offence and sentenced at the Belfast Winter Assizes to twelve years’ imprisonment. Defying the strict rules of the prison, he maintained a journal from December 1956 to September 1962.
Against the odds the manuscript has survived. Written in Irish, it is a reflective account of his daily lot (prison regime; IRA command structures; education; relations with his fellow prisoners and staff). It is an insider’s perspective on the unfolding IRA campaign gleaned from newly arrived prisoners, secret correspondence with the IRA and the latest news reports on a smuggled and cleverly hidden transistor radio. Within the bleak confines of Crumlin Road prison, Eamonn Boyce set down hopes, dreams and fears. The diary became an indispensable tool to keep human dignity alive.
‘Boyce’s comments are supported by numerous unsourced footnotes, which were evidently culled from digital newspaper databanks. They are presented in the style of encyclopaedia entries and will undoubtedly benefit students of the period. Bryson contributes a scholarly introductory essay in which some of the wider themes of the memoir are assessed and contextualised. Overall, The insider is a very interesting and rare insight into the events of a near-forgotten campaign.’ – History Ireland
ABOUT THE EDITOR
ANNA BRYSON holds a Ph.D. in History from Trinity College, Dublin. She has overseen the translation of these diaries from their original Irish and, with the assistance of Boyce himself, has carefully unravelled their many codes and allusions. A substantial introduction sets the context in the history of the IRA in the 1950s, British penal history and the genre of prison diaries. Comprehensive biographical notes and cross-references make this a work of reference – while maintaining the personal narrative of Boyce’s prison experience.