and other Seafaring Vessels
On the 3rd of July 1914, the
Asgard, captained by Erskine Childers, and the Kelpie,
captained by Conor O’Brien, both travelled to the North sea
to meet the German tugboat Gladiator. The cargo of rifles
and bullets were split between the two boats with 600 mauser
rifles and 20,000 rounds going on to the Kelpie and the rest
on the Asgard.
On the 26th of July 1914 the Asgard landed in Howth and were
met by a jubilant crowd of 800 members of the Irish
Volunteers. This gun landing had a dual purpose, also acting
as a public demonstration in response to the Unionists gun
landing at Larne.
The Kilcoole gun
landing operation, however, was kept quiet. After the Kelpie
split ways with the Asgard it was met by the Chotah, a yacht
owned by Sir Thomas Myles, the president of the Royal
College of Surgeons, off the Llyn Peninsula in Wales and
offloaded her armament. The Chotah held on to the cargo
while the Kelpie sailed across the Irish Sea acting as a
decoy for the Asgard.
The Chotah continued the
journey and a week later under the cover of darkness the
guns were offloaded to the beach where they were met by a
small number of volunteers and their supporters who hurried
away with the guns in the night to be stashed and stored
Lady Wicklow was a
steamship built in 1890 in Belfast, Ireland for the
City of Dublin Steam Packet Company. This ship was
262 feet long and had a beam of 34 feet.
used as a troopship for the Irish Free State to
transport 450 officers and men to Fenit, the port of
Tralee, during Irish Free State offensive of the
Anglo-Irish Treaty War.
In anticipation of such a landing, the opposing
Republican forces had rigged the pier with
explosives to blow it up. However, the set charges
were rendered inoperable by unknown Free State
collaborators, thus allowing the landing to
During the landing,
that took place on
August 2, 1922, the
Lady Wicklow was shadowed by a British Warship
prepared to lend support if the landing went awry
for the Free State forces that consisted mostly of
unemployed ex-British soldiers discharged after the
The armored vehicles, munitions
etc., used by the Free State during the landing was
part and parcel of the weaponry handed over to them by the departing British army.
As the nascent Free State had no money
in its coffers, its
army's paymaster was the British exchequer.
The Neptune was one of
the notorious convict ship of the Second Fleet that
sailed to Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour). Built in the River
Thames in 1779, at 809 tons she was the largest ship of the
fleet. The other ships were the Surprize and Scarborough.
The fleets first voyage
to Port Jackson was on January 19, 1790. The treatment of
convicts aboard the Neptune was unquestionably the most
horrific in the history of transportation to Australia.
Convicts suspected of petty theft were flogged to death;
most were kept chained below decks for the duration of the
voyage; scurvy and other diseases were endemic; and the food
rations were pitiful. During the voyage 31% of the
"convicts" died as the result of ill treatment.
Mitchel who was convicted and sentenced to
transportation for fourteen years under the Treason Felony
Act of 1848 by the British usurper in Ireland was sent from Dublin
on board HMS Scourge to Spike Island in Cork harbor where
he was incarcerated for three days. From there he was
transported to Van Dieman's Land, (now Tasmania).
After spells in the hulks
(skeleton ships) in Bermuda he was placed aboard the Neptune
bound for Cape of Good Hope in the southern tip of Africa.
The colonists refused to allow the Neptune to berth
there and after five months at anchor in Simon's Bay she
sailed to Van Diemen's Land docking at Hobart Town in April
The Hougoumont was the last convict ship to transport convicts to
Australia. It’s most famous voyage was on October 12th 1867
when it transported 218 convicts, 62 Fenian prisoners
and 108 passengers.
On January 9 1868 the ship docked at Fremantle,
Western Australia .During the voyage, many of the Fenians
entertained themselves by producing seven editions of a
shipboard newspaper entitled The Wild Goose, which today can
be viewed in the State Library of New South Wales.
A number of journals of
the voyage exist including those of Denis Cashman and
John Casey. The memoirs of
Thomas McCarthy Fennell
have recently been discovered and published.
survive, and many articles about the voyage were later
written by Fenians who went on to become journalists
including such notables as
John Boyle O'Reilly
The Fenian Ram
The Fenian Ram is the second
experimental submarine built by Irish-born inventor and
P. Holland. It was financed by the Fenian
Brotherhood that sought Ireland's independence from British
Two years of experimentation
that began with a dockside submergence test in June 1881. By
mid-1883, he was conducting regular experimental trials as
far south as the Narrows of New York Harbor and along the
Brooklyn shore, achieving a surface speed of nine knots and
submerging as deep as 50 feet. Holland also staged several
successful demonstrations of the pneumatic gun, projecting a
dummy warhead both underwater and through the air to
distances of several hundred yards. In parallel, he
continued tinkering with his design, incrementally improving
maneuverability, speed, and range. It led Holland to perfect
four other experimental craft that eventually resulted in
his Holland submarine of 1898, which was adopted by the U.S.
Navy and commissioned as SS-1.
The Fenian Ram was placed in
Paterson's West Side Park in 1928 as a monument to the
inventor. In 1980, it was moved inside the Paterson Museum
where today it serves as a reminder of the ingenuity of the
"father of the modern submarine."
The SS Cuba
The "SS Cuba" was
a passenger steam ship that sailed the Atlantic from 1864 to 1873.
In 1871 five Fenians released from British prisons came to the
United States aboard the SS Cuba. The five,
collectively referred to as the 'Cuba Five", included
Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa,
Charles Underwood O'Connell,
Henry Mulleda, and John McClure arrived in New York to a rapturous welcome
from their fellow country men and women.
The United States
congress passed a resolution welcoming the 'Cuba Five' and their fellow Fenian prisoners to the nations capital. They were also received at the White House by President Ulysses S. Grant in a gesture of gratitude for the many Irish, including senior Fenians, who had served in his victorious Union Army.
Devoy and O'Donovan Rossa went on to become
two of the most outstanding members of the Fenian movement in the USA in
the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries
The Asgard, which
was commissioned by Erskine Childers in 1905 as a
wedding gift for his wife, Molly, was built by Colin
Archer a Norwegian boat builder and designer.
On May 28, 1914 writer and
political activist Darrell Figgis and Childers
negotiated a shipment of 1,500 rifles and 49,000 rounds
of ammunition from arms firm Moritz Magnus in Hamburg.
Childers, his wife and a
small crew, made the channel crossing with 900 rifles
and 29,000 rounds of ammunition from Germany into
Howth just north of
Dublin, to arm the Irish Volunteers
in response to the arming of the
by the Larne gun-running
Conor O'Brien, an architect
who served in the Royal Naval Reserve during the First
World War carried the rest in his yacht The Kelpie. The
arms were transferred enroute to the Chotah and unloaded
Kilcoole in Co.Wicklow by Sir Thomas Myles, a surgeon,
barrister and politician Tom Kettle and barrister James
The Jacknell (Erin.s Hope)
On the 12th of April, 1867, an
between forty and fifty Fenians consisting mostly of former
Civil War officers and enlistees, boarded the Jacknell, a
200 ton brigantine in Sandy Hook, New Jersey and set
sail for Ireland to participate in the Fenian Rising. J. E. Kerrigan was in command of the Fenians assisted
by William J. Nagle and John Warren. The
ship's was under the command of
Capt. Cavanagh .
The ships cargo included a large quantity of firearms and a small
quantity of artillery pieces.
After nine days of sailing the
green flag of Erin was hoisted and the ship’s name changed
to Erin’s Hope. The first landing in Sligo was
abandoned after six days due to unanswered signals to
'awaiting' Fenians on shore.
Next the ship sailed south to
the alternate landing site at
Helvick outside Dungarvan in Waterford where most of
the Fenians disembarked. Several more landing attempts were made
before those remaining on board decided to return to the
U.S. having learned that that the Rising had floundered.
Although Erin’s Hope did not
rendezvous with the Fenians as planned her Captain managed
to outsmart the British navy for over three
weeks while being pursued by as many as
three British navy war ships.
The voyage, which lasted 107
days and covered over 9,000 miles returned
safely to the United States with its cargo intact.
Most of the officers and men who disembarked in Helvic
William Halpin and Augustine E Costello were captured
and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment.
They were released in 1871 in response to pressure by the
Dublin Amnesty Association and U. S government
SS Libau (SS Aud)
The SS Libau, masquerading as the SS Aud, an existing Norwegian vessel,
set sail from the Baltic port of
Lübeck on 9 April 1916, under the Command of
Karl Spindler. The vessel was bound for the south-west coast of
Ireland with a cargo consisting of 20,000
rifles, 1,000,000 rounds of ammunition, 10
machine guns, and explosives
the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland.
It arrived off the Kerry coast on April 20 1916.
Unable to communicate with volunteers on shore,
Captain Spindler was left with no option but to abort the
mission and return to Lubeck.
The reason why contact with the shore failed was
that three of the six volunteers enroute to Kerry to handle
communications were drowned when their car took a wrong turn
and ran into the River Laune. The three volunteers who
drowned were Con Keating, Donal Sheehan and Charlie
starting the return journey, the ship was intercepted by the
British Navy and escorted back to Cobh Harbor. Before
reaching Cobh the captain scuttled the ship with preset
explosives rather than have it fall
into enemy hands.
In the meantime, Roger Casement, who had
negotiated the arms shipment with Germany, had been put
ashore off a German U-Boat on Banna Strand on 21, April in
the hope of a rendezvous with the Aud. He was subsequently
arrested, tried for treason and executed on August 3 1916.
The Whaling ship 'Gazelle'
The 'Gazelle' was a
whaling ship built in New Bedford Massachusetts in the early 1800's that plied the
Pacific Ocean in search of sperm
Manned by a captain and crew
supportive of the Irish in their quest for freedom from
Britain, the Gazelle played a historic role in the life of
John Boyle O'Reilly
After two years in English prisons
John Boyle O'Reilly was transported with sixty-one other
Fenians in the
Hougoumont, arriving in Western Australia on 10
In his first weeks at the Convict Establishment in Fremantle
he worked with the chaplain, Father Lynch, in the prison
library. O'Reilly was transferred to a road party at Bunbury
but was soon given clerical duties and entrusted to deliver
the weekly report to the local convict depot.
Befriended by the priest, Patrick McCabe, and an Irish
settler named James Maguire who was sympathetic to the
Fenian cause, O'Reilly, with their assistance, planned his
escape. Foiled in his first attempt, he hid on Maguire's
farm until he boarded the American whaler
February 18, 1869. After narrowly escaping capture at
Roderiquez Island he transferred to the American
Sapphire at St
Helena and joined the
Bombay as a deck-hand at Liverpool. He arrived in
Philadelphia on November 23,