Howth gun-running

 

By Joe Healy

IVCO,Cork,July 23,2014.

 

Following the establishment of the Irish Volunteers in Dublin on 25 November 1913, leaders of the newly formed organisation set about obtaining arms and equipment for its members, in a bid to finally end Britain’s continuing occupation of Ireland.
With Home Rule for Ireland being regarded as a realistic prospect, the Ulster unionists began importing huge quantities of arms unhindered into the country (by 1914, almost 20,000 Protestant Ulstermen were under arms).
The Howth gun running, which took place on the 26th of July 1914, was essentially a  direct response to the successful landing of a shipment of 35,000 German rifles at Larne for Sir Edward Carson’s Ulster Volunteers the previous April.
The Howth landing was the first military operation in Ireland’s twentieth-century fight for independence and was a significant event in the lead up to the Easter Rising of 1916. It succeeded in putting a large haul of German Mauser M1871 11 mm calibre single shot rifles and ammunition in the hands of the Irish Volunteers. The guns dated from the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, but were still functioning. Many were used to great effect in the GPO during the Rising two years later.
The initial plan was conceived and successfully carried out by a group of Anglo-Irish Republican sympathisers, including Erskine Childers, Molly Childers, Sir Roger Casement, Alice Stopford Green and Mary Spring Rice. Molly Childers and Spring Rice raised over £2000 in funds to purchase the arms while the Childers provided their yacht, the Asgard, to run the guns into Ireland.
Childers was a committed supporter of Home Rule and the Larne gun-running had convinced him of the need to counterbalance the situation by carrying out a similar venture on behalf of the Irish Volunteers.
Roger Casement was appointed as the link with the Volunteers’ leadership and Darrell Figgis was co-opted at Casement’s suggestion. At the end of May, Childers and Figgis travelled to the Hamburg arms firm of Moritz Magnus der Jüngere and bought a consignment of 1,500 Mauser Model 1871 rifles and 49,000 rounds of ammunition. On 12 July 1914 the arms were transferred at sea, from a German tugboat to Childers’s yacht Asgard and the Kelpie of Conor O’Brien.
As the movements of Kelpie were being monitored by the authorities, O’Brien transferred his cargo to Sir Thomas Myles in the Chotah off the coast of Wales. This was landed under cover of darkness on 1st August at Kilcoole, about 25 kilometres south of Dublin.
Only 900 of the rifles could be taken by the Asgard, and they completely filled the cabin. With space at such a premium, those on board had to eat and sleep while lying on the guns.
As it made its way to Ireland, the 51-foot  yacht ran into the biggest storm to hit the Irish Sea for a number of years. It was due to Childers’ seamanship and courage that the vessel survived at all and wasn’t swamped by the high seas.
On the morning of July 26, 1914, with the storm behind them, the Asgard sailed into Howth Harbour. The guns and ammunition were quickly unloaded by members of the Irish Volunteers and Na Fianna.
Kerry-born Republican, The O’Rahilly, later described the scene. `Twenty minutes sufficed to discharge her cargo; as many motor-cars flew with the ammunition to pre-arranged caches; and for the first time in a century 1,000 Irishmen with guns on their shoulders marched on Dublin town.”
The Volunteers and Fianna headed back to Dublin in military formation, passing armed policemen in Raheny and bypassing a military blockade in Clontarf.
Meanwhile, Dublin Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Harrel had declared the march ‘an illegal assembly’. The DMP, aided by troops of the 2nd King’s Own Scottish Borderers were deployed to halt the Volunteers.
While returning to their barracks in Dublin, after an unsuccessful attempt to confiscate the weapons, a number of the troops opened fire on a hostile crowd of civilians. Three people were killed and thirty-eight others wounded.
At the official inquest into the incident the government’s commission concluded that the actions of the Scottish Borderers were ‘tainted with illegality’. The Borderers were subsequently transferred to the Western Front where they were to suffer many losses.
The Bachelor’s Walk shootings highlighted British double standards, where Unionists were effectively allowed to arm without government interference while Republicans were violently prevented from doing so when they tried to do likewise.
Whenever the exploits of the Howth landing are discussed the first name that usually springs to mind is that of Erskine Childers, who was born in England in 1870. His formative years were spent in Ireland at his aunt’s estate at Glandalough, County Wicklow. after he was effectively orphaned following his father’s death and his mothers confinement to a sanatorium. In 1880, aged ten, he returned to England and began preparatory school.
Nine years later he entered Cambridge University. There he earned a law degree and subsequently entered the British Civil Service as a Committee Clerk in the House of Commons.
Twice he volunteered to serve the country of his birth. In 1898 he enlisted as an artilleryman and served in the Boer War in South Africa. And then at the outbreak of World War One in 1914 – at the age of 44, and married with two children – he enlisted in the Royal Navy, firm in the belief that the Allies would ultimately respect the claims of Irish Nationality. For his naval service during the war, Childers was awarded Britain’s highest military honour, the Distinguished Service Cross.
However, the violent reaction of the British Government to the Easter Rising, particularly the harsh punishments imposed on the participants, including the execution of sixteen of its leaders, shocked Childers. In 1918, a Westminster bill proposing to extend military conscription to Ireland further angered him.
In March 1919, he returned with his family to Ireland and joined his cousin Robert Barton at Glendalough. Barton, a Sinn Fein member, introduced Childers to Michael Collins and also Éamon de Valera. Influenced by these and other nationalists, his Home Rule sympathies hardened into full support for an Irish Republic.
He was made Director of Publicity for the First Irish Parliament and in 1921 he was elected to the Second Dáil as Sinn Féin member for the Kildare/Wicklow constituency. He was appointed Minister for Propaganda and was secretary to the Irish delegation during the negotiations for a treaty with Britain in 1921. Despite attending the negotiations, Childers strongly disagreed with the signing of the Treaty.
One of the traits of Childers personality was that he would often become obsessed with whatever concerned him. It was a characteristic that remained with him throughout his life and may have accounted for the transformation from one who once argued for peaceful Home Rule legislation in 1912, to becoming ‘more Republican in outlook that the Republicans themselves’.
As the chief propagandist of the republican movement during the subsequent Civil War, Childers was hunted relentlessly by Free State Army soldiers. He was arrested at Glendalough House for carrying a gun, which it is said had originally been given to him by Michael Collins.
He was sentenced to death and was executed at Beggars Bush Barracks on November 24th 1922, having first shaken hands with each member of the firing squad.  He was buried in the grounds of the barracks until 1923 when his body was reinterred in the republican plot of Glasnevin Cemetery.
Erskine Childers initially considered the Howth action to be as much a symbolic response to the Larne gun-running as it was an exercise in procuring arms. Was he to know that it would act as a catalyst for the Easter Rising, the War of Independence and ultimately the establishment of an Irish Republic?
Today he is remembered as a writer and sailor, as a soldier of the British Empire who became an Irish Nationalist and as a Republican that could never come to terms with the outcome of the struggle.
In 1961, the Irish government acquired the Asgard and returned it to Wicklow in a re-enactment of the Howth gun-running. Several surviving members of the Volunteers and Na Fianna attended, some with the original Mauser rifles.
It was used for sail training until 1974, when it was dry-docked and installed as part of a National Museum exhibition in Kilmainham Gaol. From 2007 to 2012, a major restoration and conservation programme of the historic yacht was undertaken at the National Museum of Ireland Collins Barracks, and it is now on permanent display there.

Many thanks to member Joe Healy for a great article.

 

 

 

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100.th Anniversary “ASGARD” Commemoration.

Upcoming event for your diary – 100th anniversary commemoration of the landing of gun running boat the Asgard at Howth in 1914. Commemoration takes place on the East Pier, Howth, on Saturday 26th July at 3pm,speaker Eoin Ó Broin.

There will be an exhibition by the Irish Volunteers Commemorative Organisation on Saturday at the Angling Centre, Howth pier from 11 am to 6 pm on the same day,FREE admission.  Event organised by Howth Sinn Fein,with special thanks to Kostas Moutskos and Mick Dowling.

Ballads later in the Angling centre from 6.pm.

.                     All welcome.

asgard commemoration

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Howth Gun Running Centenary Commemoration 1914-2014

An exhibition of artefacts from the Asgard gunrunning of 1914 will take place in the Old Court House, Harbour Rd. Howth on Sat 26th & Sun 27th of July,from 11.am to 6 pm. on Saturday and 11.am to 4 pm on Sunday.This exhibition will also include artefacts from the Revolution of 1916 & the War of Independence to 1923. The Irish Volunteers Comm Organisation will be hosting the exhibition. Talks given daily by local historians & prominent speakers.FREE admission

Venue: Old Court House, Harbour Rd. Howth.
Date: Sat 26th & Sun 27th of July.
Contact: Pádraig Drummond, 0858353625/p_drummond@hotmail.com

http://irishvolunteers.org/

This is a non party political event and all are welcome.

On Saturday 26th of July there will be a talk on the Asgard Gun running and the Bachelors Walk Massacre by Kevin Morley author of “A Descriptive History of the Irish Citizen Army”.

This will be followed by a ballad session from local musicians with headline act from the one and only, Érin go Bragh.

Venue: The Abbey Tavern, Abbey St. Howth.
Date: Sat 26th July
Doors from 8pm.
Full bar with complementary finger food.
Táille €5.

Contact: Pádraig Drummond, 0858353625/ or e mail  p_drummond@hotmail.com

THIS IS NON PARTY POLITICAL EVENT, ALL ARE WELCOME

 

howth gun running commemoration

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The attack on The Royal Irish Constabulary Kilmallock Barracks.

The RIC Kilmallock sign will be on display at Irish Volunteers Commemorative events around the country soon. It was captured by IRA Volunteers.

royal irish constabulary kilmallock barracks plate

 

royal irish constabulary,

 

Posted in British Forces, RIC, Auxilaries, Black & Tans, Individual Accounts Irish Volunteers 1913-1923, Royal Irish Constabulary & Dublin Metropolitan Police Memorials | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Fian Seamus Courtney Passage West,Cork

Fian Seamus Courtney O/C Fianna Eireann,Cork,

he died as the result of the ill effects of a hunger strike while he was in jail for illegal drilling in 1919. ” Seamus Courtney was arrested in 1917 and lodged in Cork jail where he went on hunger strike. This undermined his health and on his release his health broke down completely and he died. He was buried at Passage with full military honours. In 1921, the Fianna were re-organized into Battalions and Brigades along the same lines as the Volunteers.” The first photo is Seamus and the others are the present condition of his grave in Passage West Old Cemetery”,Cork.

Fianna Seamus Courtney

Fianna Seamus Courtney

 

On Sunday June 29.th, members of the Irish Volunteers Commemorative Organisation began work on cleaning up the grave and restoring the metal work that depicts the pike, harp of the Irish Volunteers and the sun bursts of Fianna Eireann.

Pat Manning located this grave a while ago and provided the pictures and text,Joe Healy also had some useful contributions and Diarmuid ,Brian and Mick all helped out.Well done to all.

The Irish Volunteers Commemorative Organisation will return to Seamus Courtney’s grave on Saturday, August 9.th,2014 at 2.30 pm  for a dedication and wreath laying ceremony,please show your support and all are very welcome to attend.

Work in progress:

 

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Report of the Irish Ceremony at Bannockburn on the 700th Anniversary of the Battle

Report of the Irish Ceremony at Bannockburn on the 700th Anniversary of the Battle

In brilliant sunshine on 21 June a crowd of around a hundred Irish and Scots attended an Irish ceremony to mark the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, when over the two days of 23 and 24 June 1314, under the leadership of King Robert the Bruce; the victorious Scots and their Irish allies inflicted a heavy defeat on a numerically superior English army led by King Edward II in the first War of Scottish Independence.

Dr Mairtin O'Cathain delivering his speech

Dr Mairtin O’Cathain delivering his speech

The ceremony which was held in the Rotunda on the historic battle site was organised by members of the Irish community in Scotland with the endorsement of Irish for Yes and the Alba Branch of the Celtic League.

The historian Stephen Coyle who chaired the proceedings, explained that the purpose of the ceremony was two-fold; an act of remembrance for the Scots and Irish forces killed in the battle, and to highlight the historic ties that exist between the peoples of Scotland and Ireland and which can only grow stronger in an independent Scotland. He then introduced the first speaker Dr Máirtín Ó Catháin, Lecturer in Irish and European History at the Central University of Lancashire. In a very informative address Dr Ó Catháin explained the Irish dimension to the battle including the involvement of the armies of the O’Neills and O’Cathains in what was a magnificent display of Celtic solidarity in the struggle for freedom against the common English foe. In his concluding remarks Dr O’Cathain stated: “Ireland looked to Scotland in 1314 and it looks to it again in 2014. This time there’s no need to send a Bruce but if you send a message – that the writing is on the wall for the so-called Union, you’ll be doing a work not only for Scotland but for Ireland as well. And that is truly the best way to honour those who fought and died for Gaeldom and freedom”.

The next speaker was Caoimhín Ó Cadhla who is a Dublin based member of the Irish Branch of the Celtic League. Mr Ó Cadhla in his opening remarks stated: “We Irish look to your independence campaign with hope as we did 700 years ago. Realise that you are not just fighting for freedom for Scotland but for all the countries that seek their freedom around the world including the other Celtic Nations. This is not just a national issue but an international issue; that being the conflict between self-determination and the forces of imperialism”.

Irish for Yes at Bannockburn

Irish for Yes at Bannockburn

The final speaker was Feargal Dalton who is a Glasgow based Scottish National Party councillor. He first visited Scotland in 1994 to do some mountain climbing in the Highlands.  He stated: “I had learned a bit of Scottish Gàidhlig at school.  But I was struck by the place names on the map and how similar they were to the Irish language.  It was only then I realised how strong the cultural links are between Scotland and Ireland. We stopped in Glasgow on the way home and I was struck by the raw urban friendliness of Glaswegians; they reminded me of my fellow Dublin northsiders. I set about making Glasgow and Scotland my home which they became in 1996 and in the first Holyrood election of 1999 I voted for the SNP.  I bumped into a good friend on the way back from polling station, a friend who is a Scot but with a strong Irish identity. I told him that I had just done my bit in the election by voting for the SNP.  He said, “Oh no, we Irish in Scotland don’t want Independence.  We’d end up like the ones in Belfast.” I was taken aback. This was my first encounter with Unionism in the Irish Community in Scotland.  And it was a Unionism based on fear and fear alone”.

Mr Dalton went on to state: “Some in the Irish community have a lack of appreciation or a deliberate denial of the strong historical links between Scotland and Ireland. Unionists within the Irish community and in general in Scotland often say there is no connection between the Scottish and Irish independence movements.

I suggest they speak to a pupil in Ireland who is studying history. My history book at school had a photograph of James Connolly on the front.  Scotland’s very own Irish patriot.  A man who grew up in abject poverty in the Cowgate in Edinburgh. And he made the link between self-determination and social justice, ‘The cause of Ireland is the cause of labour and the cause of labour is the cause of Ireland.’

A hundred years ago there were unionists who said, “don’t devolve anything to the Irish.  Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.” Other unionists believed some powers needed to be devolved in order to kill nationalism by kindness. Sounds very like, “Devolution will kill nationalism stone dead”. The words in 1995 of our own George Robertson, Scotland’s foremost Unionist.

Earlier this month we had the commemorations for the fallen in Normandy.  Commemorations that were attended by the nations of the allies and Germany.  The British and Irish Governments are working out the detail of how they will commemorate the fallen of 1916 in two years’ time.

But John Major says that by commemorating the fallen at Bannockburn we are anti-English.

I can assure you Mr Major that I am only anti people who blame the failings of an indigenous elite on the poor, the sick and on immigrants. I would never denigrate your history or the memory of your fallen Mr Major, so I respectfully ask that you don’t denigrate ours.

The polls are showing that the gap between Yes and No has narrowed. We are finding on the doorstep in Glasgow that there is no gap. This is causing increasing panic at Westminster.

Some at Westminster are saying that they won’t recognise the reality of Scottish Independence. We even have some Westminster politicians saying that they won’t recognise a yes vote; peers from the House of Lords no less and what would they know about democracy.

My grandfather and others in my family played their part in the Irish independence movement. I can stand here today and proudly say that. Some in my family paid for that independence with their lives.

But here we are in Scotland in 2014. And at this defining time in our lives, in this defining moment in our country’s history, I say to those in the Irish community and the wider community; if you believe in the full self-determination of Celtic nations, all you have to do is simply put an X in a box next to Yes”.

The chairperson then read out a message of support from Dan O’Neill who is Chief Guardian of the Ancient Clan O’Neill of Tyrone, in which he expressed the importance of Celtic solidarity in our common struggles which would be best affirmed by casting a Yes vote on 18 September.

 

Eugene McCabe who is a Glasgow based Yes Scotland campaign activist, laid a wreath at the memorial cairn on behalf of the Irish in Scotland. The chairperson concluded the ceremony by asking those assembled to observe a minute’s silence while the uilleann piper, Uilliam ÓhAicéad, played a lament in memory of the fallen. The colour party simultaneously dipped its flags as a mark of respect.

Irish Wreath

Irish Wreath

 

Flags lowered for piper's lament to fallen

Flags lowered for piper’s lament to fallen

 

 

 

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Dunlop Oriel House – Corner of Fenian Street & Westland Row, Dublin.

 

By Michael McKenna:

Dunlop Oriel House – Corner of Fenian Street & Westland Row, Dublin.
I had a tour around the infamous Oriel House, headquarters of the CID during the Civil War this morning. I took these pictures in the upper floor of the old Dunlop Factory at the back of the building. The iron gate over the door to the factory dates back to at least Civil War days, and probably older as I believe the building was also used to house prisoners by the British. According to the security guard who took me around the building there were still cages there as recently as 5 or 6 years ago. As Eunan O’Halpin put it “Oriel House succeeded in its task of suppressing small scale republican activities in the Dublin area, not by the sophistication and efficiency its intelligence work… but by the more direct method of striking terror into its opponents”. It was certainly quite chilling to be taken through the basement of the building. For more information on the activities of the CID, this article is quite comprehensive.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_State_Intelligence_Department_–_Oriel_House

Towards the end of the Civil War the CID et al actually moved out of Oriel House (whichever one it might be) and into a building on Merrion Square, close to Government Buildings. The front wall of Oriel House was blown in by a large mine. The corner building shows no sign of this, however the stone facade on the building now occupied by the RIAM looks newer than the rest of the building. I think the weight of evidence would tend towards the corner building, which also has the postal address of ‘Dunlop Oriel House’

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