Setting out from New Bedford, Massachusetts on April 29, 1875, the American whaling barque 'Catalpa' undertook a secret year-long mission to liberate a group of Irishmen known as 'The Freemantle Six' from an Australian prison.
The six men had been soldiers in the British army when they took the secret Fenian Oath and pledged themselves to fight for Irish independence and armed insurrection against the British military. Arrested in 1866 and tried for treason against the Crown, they were sentenced to imprisonment and slow death in 'a hellish foreign land.'
After eight years languishing in Freemantle Gaol and aided by a worldwide network of Irish nationalists and undercover agents the Freemantle Six escaped to the Australian coast where the 'Catalpa' was waiting to escort them to freedom.
But their trials were only just beginning. The obstacles they overcame, from armed British vessels to the full fury of the sea, made their escape the stuff of international headlines and legends.
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