ON THIS DAY: 26 JULY 1914: Volunteers meet the Asgard for delivery of guns

ON THIS DAY, July 26th 1914, hundreds of Irish Volunteers met the Asgard at Howth and took deliverance of 900 guns and ammunition which would arm the rebels of 1916.

The need to arm the Irish Volunteers had gained a fresh urgency after the Ulster Volunteer Force landed almost 25,000 rifles and between 3 and 5 million rounds of ammunition in Larne, Donaghadee, and Bangor in the April 1914.

The Asgard had set out from north Wales on July 3rd with a crew of 6: The writer Erskine Childers and his wife Molly, Mary Spring Rice, Gordon Shephard, and two fishermen from Gola Island, Patrick McGinley and Charles Duggan. On July 12th they collected some 1200 rifles from a German tugboat to Childers’ yacht and another boat, the Kelpie manned by Conor O’Brien.

Mary Spring Rice records that the return journey was more difficult and uncomfortable because the rifles took up much of the cabin space and made for an uncomfortable sleeping area.

As it made its way to Ireland, the yacht ran into the biggest storm to hit the Irish Sea for years. Childers’ seamanship and courage ensured all aboard survived and reached Howth on the morning of July 26, where the guns were eagerly unloaded by members of the Irish Volunteers and Na Fianna.

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 Assistant Commissioner of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, WV Harrel, declared the march from the Asgard an illegal assembly. The DMP, with troops of the 2nd King’s Own Scottish Borderers, failed to capture the Volunteers, and then opened fire on a crowd of civilians on Bachelors Walk. Three people were killed and thirty-eight others wounded.

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