Two Romanian brothers who escaped from what's been described as a low security part of Castlerea Prison are on the loose, prompting a nationwide search for the pair.

The meter-plunderers' escape is the second time this year that inmates have made a dash from detention facilities that certainly wouldn't give Alcatraz a run for its money: this April three escapees had to be re-captured after evading security personnel at an 'open prison', a kind of penal bed-and-breakfast where inmates are given a key to their own cells and trusted not to escape.

Police chiefs after that incident were forced into making an embarrassing apology when it emerged that the convict in question had made an escape from the same facility just several years previously.

This morning's unusually courteous escapees, Toader Feier (23) and his brother Basile (28), even left prison authorities a fond goodbye note, explaining "we are sorry, but we had no choice."

The Eastern European duo were not due for release until next April, according to the Irish Independent, and had committed a sleuth of robbery offences including stealing a number of parking meters in Galway.

Assignment to committal facilities in Irish prison system is often seemingly the stuff of lottery: just this June it emerged that two 'rogue prison officers' who had willingly brought drugs and various other items for inmates into their cells had been relocated from the top-security Midlands Prison to the comparative luxuries of the 'open prison' at Loughran House.

The pair's impress haulage of counterband included bringing everything from sedative tablets and recreational drugs to Bluetooth headsets into the facility.

Data from the Prison Service made available to the press last year showed that 86 inmates at open prisons made a run for it, with most returning voluntarily within a few days; this year, over sixteen such break-aways have been recorded.

Undoubtedly the most impressive prison escape ever to take place on the island of Ireland was the Maze Prison Escape of 1983 (fondly known to Republicans as the 'Great Escape') in which 38 Provisional IRA Members managed to make it past the Maze Prison, a high-security committal prison in Northern Ireland used primarily for paramilitary, subversive, and other high-risk inmates at the height of The Troubles.

The Republic's prison system is administered by the Irish Prison System.

Portlaoise Prison, situated in the Midlands and used primarily for the detention of drugs-related convicts, is the country's only high-security detainment institution.