Hundreds attend centenary ceremony for Irish volunteers’ gun running

Local people decorated their homes with the national flag and applauded parade

Members of the Lord Edward’s Own historical re-enactment group taking part on Saturday in Kilcoole’s heritage weekend marking the north Wicklow village’s role in the Irish Vonunteer gun running 100 years ago. Photograph: Peter Murtagh

Members of the Lord Edward’s Own historical re-enactment group taking part on Saturday in Kilcoole’s heritage weekend marking the north Wicklow village’s role in the Irish Vonunteer gun running 100 years ago. Photograph: Peter Murtagh

Sat, Jul 26, 2014, 20:31

Themes of reconciliation, diversity and reflective consideration of Ireland’s chequered modern history dominated sentiment in the north Wicklow village of Kilcoole, which this weekend commemorated its role in the Irish Volunteers’ gun running of 100 years ago.

Six hundred German-made Mauser rifles and 20,000 bullets, part of the Asgard haul, the bulk of which, 900 rifles and 29,000 bullets, was landed at Howth on July 26th 1914, were landed at night on Kilcoole beach on August 1st 1914 and spirted away to Patrick Pearse’s school in Rathfarnham.

Speaking today in front of a bouquet of white lilies and bright red poppies, priests of the Catholic Church and the Church of Ireland both addressed themes of mature remembrance and of learning from they past when they spoke at a brief ecumenical service in a field behind the village.

Fr Liam Belton said the community was recalling its role in Irish history “to honour all good Irish people and all people of Kilcoole”.

The Rev William Bennett, noted his Quaker schooling and its emphasis on peace-making, said the community was there now “to celebrate and learn from the past and remember those who were prepared to sacrifice for what they believed in”.

One of the organisers, Gregori Meakin, said the flowers brought together in one bouquet symbols of importance to two sets of people - those who fought for Irish freedom and those who fought in the first World War - and he urged reflection on their actions.

A Defence Forces colour party of the 2nd Brigade, Cathal Brugha Barracks, led by flag bearer 2nd Lt William Doyle from Wexford, accompanied by Sgts Brendan Clarke, from Bray, and Brian Colleran from Rathmines, led a parade through the village, assisted by Piper Jack Patterson from the Irish Prison Service Pipe Band.

Local people decorated their homes with the national flag and many applauded as the parade passed.

It included 10 Defence Force veterans of service with the United Nations, including veterans from the Congo, Cyprus and Lebanon.

The role of the Irish Volunteers in the Kilcoole gun running was represented by a contingent of the Lord Edward’s Own, a historical re-enactment group of the Monasterevin Historical Society.

They marched through the village and down to the beach where the guns were landed, sporting period weapons and wearing uniforms of the Irish Volunteers, the Irish Citizen’s Army and Cumann na mBan, the women’s auxiliary force of the Volunteers.

Several hundred local people turned out, many of them in Edwardian period dress, and the parade included also children of the local St Patrick’s Kilcoole GAA club.

The parade’s final flourish was an elegant and superbly preserved vintage Buick Tourer car, roadworthy since 1920.