This Easter weekend a momentous event in Irish history is remembered – that of course being the 1916 Rising. The Easter rebellion has proved to be a focal point in Irish history, paving the way to Ireland’s independence six years later.
And this moment in Irish history is, as with so many, deeply entangled with the sea. To get here, to leave here, it has always been by boat. As it was in the rebellion, with Gun running by boat and naval attacks around the coast. Acknowledging this coastal connection, we’ve put together some interesting 1916 maritime stories below.
Gun Running to Howth & Kilcoole
April of 1914 the Ulster Volunteers smuggled 35,000 German rifles into Larne. This caused an imbalance of power and worried the Irish supporters prompting them to plan there own gun running to even the playing field. A mission was hatched to secure guns to arm the rebels. Two boats, Asgard and Kelpie, would sail to the North Sea to meet the German boat and secure the guns. The Asgard would return to Howth in a public display but the second cargo of guns would quietly arrive in darkness on the shores of Kilcoole one week later. These guns would go on to arm the rebels during the Rising
Arms sail in from the continent
Roger Casement was an Irish Nationalist and Rebel, involved with the Howth gun running and later travelled aboard looking for help and support for the rebellion. He secured a number of guns from Germany which were shipped out on the ship undercover as the ‘Aud’. But Casement became concern that even with the German guns that the rebellion would fail. He travelled back to Ireland by submarine with the intention to stop of Rising before it started.
Both his submarine and the ‘Aud’ were not successful in their missions. The German vessel was intercepted by the British Navy off Cork and Casement ended by stranded on Banna Strand Co. Kerry.
The Helga on the Liffey
The HMY Helga has a long and interesting history but it is infamously remembered for the part it played in the Rising. The Dublin built ship was brought up to the Liffey to root out the Irish Volunteers by shelling the city with her 12 pound artillery guns. She fired on Liberty Hall, the GPO and Bolland Mills and although her shots were less than accurate she destroyed much of the surrounding buildings and beyond.