Next Saturday marks the 100 year anniversary of the Asgard landing of guns at the East Pier in Howth, acknowledged as a significant event in the run up to the Easter rising. Howth volunteers will organise an enactment of the Asgard landing at the East pier at the official commemoration on Sunday 27th July.
Independent MEP Nessa Childers said the Asgard’s story is of great relevance and interest to many people today. “Sailing enthusiasts and historians are fascinated by the journey in the Asgard undertaken by my grandparents Erskine and Molly Childers, Mary Spring Rice, and two fishermen from Gola Island, Pat McGinley and Charles Duggan.
“I also want to congratulate the Howth volunteers who are organising the enactment of the Asgard landing at the East pier next Sunday, and who gave their time and expertise during the restoration of the original Asgard now in its new home in the Collins Barracks Museum.
“Many people are moved by the vision and passion that inspired the group to undertake this dangerous journey. The journey is vividly described by Mary Spring Rice who wrote a daily log which is published in FX Martin’s book ‘The Howth Gun running and the Kilcoole Gun Running’, and by Molly in her diary and letters detailing the journey.
“The gun running was a symbolic and bold gesture intended to give confidence to Irish nationalists. Although the guns were used in combat, my grandfather would have viewed their importance as primarily for propaganda purposes. We would now describe the event as armed politics, intended to put political pressure on the British Government and opponents of Irish independence.
“They group sailed from Hollyhead to the North Sea and back to land guns for the Irish Volunteers. The whole trip from start to finish took about three weeks. The yacht was a wedding present to my grandparents, and designed by Erskine to suit Molly who was disabled.
“When transporting the guns three men were killed and 30 were injured later that day on Bachelors Walk, when they were stopped and shot by armed forces. My grandfather was later executed by the Irish Free State, and Irish people have lived with the consequences on the Island of Ireland for decades to come.
“Erskine Childers, an English man, spent his childhood in Ireland. He had a very strong belief in the freedom of small nations and supported Irish Independence. My grandmother Molly, was from a Boston family, and identified with the struggle for Irish freedom, seeing parallels with the Boston Tea Party event.
Programme for Sunday 27th July
11.30 am- East Pier Howth:- Official commemoration ceremony at Howth harbour led by President Michael D. Higgins with participation by Ms. Heather Humphreys TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and the Defence Forces. Ceremony to include address by President Higgins, and will conclude with wreath-laying and ceremonial activities.
1.00 pm- a re-enactment, arranged by the ASGARD 100 Community Group of the landing of arms featuring a replica of the yacht ASGARD and a flotilla of boats will be observed by President Higgins. Local volunteers from the Howth GAA club and marching volunteers from Dublin will unload and leave the Pier with the consignment.
Historical context to the events of 26th July 1914 will be provided by members of the ASGARD 100 group throughout the proceedings.
1.30 pm- President Higgins will view the ASGARD replica dinghy constructed by the ASGARD 100 group and presented to the National Museum of Ireland.
The Community element of the commemoration will continue after 2PM with a cultural programme featuring Brian Begley, Ceoltóirí Chluain Tarbh and St, Brigid’s Pipe Band from Howth. This event is free and open to the public – visitors are encouraged to attend in period costume. Prizes will be presented to the best period dressed individual male or female, family and boat crew. The programme will conclude at 4pm.