Thirteen plucky ‘prisoners’ from Donegal raised over €7,000 by spending a night behind bars for good causes.

The first ever overnight jailbreak challenge at Lifford Old Courthouse has been hailed a success… because the volunteers all made it out in one piece!

The unique event last Friday 29th April challenged the well-known faces to plead for bail after a night in the cells of Lifford jail.

It was the first time that ‘prisoners’ had stayed in the cells in over 100 years.

The sleeping arrangements at the Charity Jailbreak Challenge at the Old Lifford Courthouse
Patsy McGonagle enters his cell for the evening

The inmates took part in escape room challenges, a ‘boxing match’ and other trials to earn treats during the night. The participants were: TV presenter Grainne Gallanagh, Highland Radio presenter John Breslin, boxer Jason Quigley, digital media guru April McManus, local singer songwriter Kenny Crawford, Donegal Woman editor Rachel McLaughlin, No Barriers founder Johnny Loughrey, sports manager Patsy McGonagle, Irish influencer Caoimhe Harkin, Donegal Coolest Place on the Planet host Erin McGinty and the Viking Dippers trio Paddy Browne, Bobby Roberts and Frank Power.

Their chosen charities included Donegal Hospice, Cancer Care West, ALONE Donegal, No Barriers Foundation, Breast Cancer Research, Asthma Society of Ireland, Little Angels School, Ohana Zero Suicide Training and Rocco’s Road To Recovery.

The winning female team after the escape room challenge
The male team after their escape room challenge
A real ‘boxing’ match for Jason Quigley and Bobby Roberts!

Gillian Graham, the manager of Lifford Old Courthouse, said:  “We’re absolutely delighted with how the Jailbreak event went. It was great to be able to showcase what community run social enterprises like ourselves are able to do, and raising such a phenomenal amount of money for charity was incredible.

“We’ve already had people inquiring about using the event as a fundraising night in the future, so we’re hopefully going to have plenty more temporary prisoners in Lifford Jail going forward.”

Gillian added: “The event has been made possible under the ARISE Programme, an awareness raising campaign for social enterprises throughout Ireland. A social enterprise is business that works primarily to improve the lives of people, reinvesting any profits into their core mission. Lifford Old Courthouse is one of the many social enterprises in Donegal and we are delighted to be able to show what is possible from community run groups.”

Established over 25 years ago, Lifford Old Courthouse has an overall objective of preserving the historic building, creating local employment and promoting arts, heritage, culture and community throughout Lifford and the surrounding areas. The east Donegal social enterprise employs ten staff.

The Jailbreak project was approved by Government with support from the Dormant Accounts Fund. For more information on Lifford Old Courthouse or to find out details to host your own Jailbreak charity event visit or call +353 (0) 74 91 41733. To donate see