A popular video campaign has managed to bring in an astonishing £82.5k in bail donations to get 30 trouble-making churchgoers released from the Crumlin Road Gaol.
The Parish of Ardboe’s jailbreak campaign, which first appeared online in August, featured a series of short videos on ‘crimes’ perpetrated by members of the community.
From the Priest robbing the local Credit Union, to an explosion at an illegal moonshine factory at Duff’s Bar, the short videos were watched by thousands on both the Mail website and Ardboe Parish’s Facebook page.
And for their crimes, 30 members of the congregation were locked up for the night in the eerie Crumlin Road prison on Oct 10, and released just in time for a gala dinner the following evening.
Their efforts, as well as helping Parish Priest Father McCartan raise over half the cost of much needed building works, also put the rural congregation on the social media map.
Compered by Crumlin Road’s new Governor, Adrian Logan, the gala dinner went off with a bang.
Around 200 people from Ardboe and Moortown came to see their fellow parishioners released and get a good meal after hours behind bars.
And after welcoming the prisoners with rapturous applause, a video was shown outlining the crimes and punishments of each and every one of them.
Opening the event Governor Logan asked: “Would there be any ghosts around here?”
He was told by Gaol operator, Mr Quinn: “It’s full of ghosts - holy ghosts,” he said, much to the amusement of the crowd.
Logie, as he called himself, then went on to introduce prisoner number one, Monica Toots, who was involved in the hold-up at the post office.
After correcting Logie on her heritage - “I’m from Moortown you know” - she told him: “I robbed the post office... but Gerry robbed the post office first and there was no money for me - he had it all away.
“You need to go to Duff’s Bar,” she then said, “Decky has the best stuff you ever tasted in your life.”
Called up to answer for himself, Decky said: “There’s only one man in here tonight that could handle it, and he’s sitting over there, [but] there’s an odd boy with a sore head.”
But offered a wee taste Logie declined, adding: “I have never done a function in a jail in my life. I wish you all the very best and I think it’s going to be a superb night.”
A three course meal was then served, games played and parishioners Eithne Quinn and Frankie O’Neill, who could not make it, shared some words on the big screen.
After a video of thanks that almost raised the roof, Fr McCartan then took to the floor to thank his project support group, his parishioners, friends who donated and the video production crew.
He said: “I couldn’t let tonight go by without saying a few words of gratitude and thanks to the very many people that has made this night possible for all of us - a momentous occasion for Ardboe.”