Sailors to mark centenary of Howth gun-running by ‘Asgard’

Flotilla of sailing boats to enter harbour on Sunday, July 27th


A group of sailors are planning to mark the centenary of the Howth gun-running later this year by bringing a flotilla of sailing boats into the north Co Dublin harbour.

On Sunday, July 27th, the group – which includes sailing adventurer Paddy Barry and Sutton chandler Pat Murphy – intend to recreate the delivery of arms to the Irish Volunteers by the Asgard and its owners, Erskine and Molly Childers.

Childers and his wife, with the aid of a small crew, famously made the crossing from Germany on the 51ft ketch which had been a wedding present from Molly’s father.

They brought with them some 900 rifles which were quickly handed over to a force of Irish Volunteers reputed to number 1,000 who had marched the nine miles out from Dublin to receive them.

A further supply of 600 rifles was later landed at Kilcoole in Co Wicklow from the Kelpie , owned by Conor O’Brien.

Under the watchful eye of a coast guard and local police who could do little to stop them, the Volunteers marched back to Dublin with the rifles as the Asgard made its getaway. There is a plaque on the dock wall in Howth as a memorial to the historic event.

This year’s recreation, however, will not involve any rifles – “we will probably unload some empty boxes”, said organiser Paddy Barry, a Dublin-based engineer with a keen interest in sea and mountaineering adventures.

Mr Barry has undertaken expeditions in the tracks of Shackleton to the Antarctic as well as completing the North West Passage. He was also involved in recreating the voyage of St Brendan around the western isles.

With the aid of boats from yacht clubs up and down the east coast, Mr Barry is hoping for a colourful flotilla at the Howth event.

He and Murphy were previously among a team of six volunteers who worked on the conservation of the Asgard at its base in the National Museum at Collins Barracks, Dublin.

“It was a conservation, not a restoration. The State was unable to allocate the money to repair the rigging so we put together a team to do it.”

The group is now working on providing a replica of the dinghy which would have served the Asgard as a tender, and this in time will also go on display with the Asgard . The Asgard itself must remain at the museum.

An illustrated talk on the history of the Asgard and the 23- day voyage to collect arms for the Irish Volunteers will be given by Mr Murphy in Donaghmede Library, north Dublin, on March 31st at 6.30pm.