#asgard – The successful shipment of 1500 German-made Mauser rifles in 1914 by Erskine Childers and his associates in support of the Irish Volunteers and their defence of Home Rule was commemorated in a re-enactment yesterday at Howth attended by President Higgins. There were further ceremonies at Kilcoole in County Wicklow, where 600 of the rifles were later landed.
The 1905 Asgard, designed and built by Colin Archer in Norway to be a wedding present for Erskine Childers and his American bride Molly Osgood, is now conserved as a permanent exhibition at the National Museum in Collins Barracks. Yesterday, a modern ketch provided a useful stand-in for Asgard's most famous role in which – despite arriving in Howth on July 26th 1914 in a near-gale from the northwest – 900 rifles were quickly unloaded by the Volunteers and marched into Dublin.
It was only in the city centre at Bachelolors Walk that serious trouble erupted a hundred years ago, when British soldiers fired on a hostile crowd as the guns were being spirited away into hiding. The shots resulted in four civilian deaths, and their loss was mourned and honoured in yesterday's ceremonies.
The remarkable contribution by Erskine Childers and his family to Irish life for more than a hundred years was marked by the presence in Howth of Nessa Childers MEP and her brother Rory, the latter taking part personally in the re-enactment. President Higgins spoke movingly of the bravery of their grandparents in putting their lives at risk in taking action in support of a cause in which they passionately believed, their action playing a pivotal role in subsequent events.
The complexity of the gun running project became clear as the events surrounding it were outlined in Kilcoole. Originally, the 1500 guns were collected by Asgard and noted voyager Conor O'Brien's yacht Kelpie from a German tug with which they rendezvoused off the Belgian coast. Then while Asgard's entire cargo was sailed to Howth, most of the Kelpie's cargo was transferred off the Welsh coast to the 60ft yacht Chotah owned by the surgeon Sir Thomas Myles, who in his time was both the leader of the Irish Protestant Nationalist Association, and President of the Royal College of Surgeons.
Chotah was brought into the project as it was felt her auxiliary engine would facilitate the landing straight onto the beach across St George's Channel channel at Kilcoole, where she was assisted by the McLaughlin family's fishing boat Nugget. In all, as an exercise in both gesture politics and guerilla activity, the mission was a remarkable success. But it paled into significance within days, as the outbreak of World War I swept events great and small aside. Many of those personally involved in the gun running were soon to see active service with the British forces, and Gordon Shephard, sailing shipmate and close friend of Erskine and Molly Childers for several years, and a leading figure in the Asgard episode in Howth, was to die on service as the youngest Brigadier in the British Army.
With Asgard now preserved as a national monument and never to sail again, several modern Asgard volunteers felt that an appropriately peaceful contribution would be to build a re-construction of Asgard's original little clinker-built sailing dinghy, as there are several photos of Erskine and Molly Childers in happier times with this little boat, which has long since disappeared. Thanks to basic drawings by Colin Archer, the boat could be exactly replicated, and lead organiser Pat Murphy and his team commissioned a reconstruction from boatbuilder Larry Archer (no relation), resulting in a new traditional boat which proved to be one of the stars of the show in Howth.
Happier days – Molly and Erskine Childers with the original Asgard dinghy
#rnli – Lifeboat crew at Howth RNLI launched their inshore lifeboat yesterday afternoon (Thursday 24 July) at 12.17pm following a call to the Coast Guard from a member of the public reporting that a boat with four people onboard was in trouble on the east side off Ireland's Eye, Howth. The 18ft vessel was taking on water.
Conditions were described as excellent and the lifeboat was on scene in minutes. The casualties had managed to leave their boat, which was beginning to become submerged and climb onto nearby rocks. The volunteer lifeboat crew immediately transferred the four people off the rocks and onto the lifeboat and put two of their own crew onto the stricken vessel to see if they could prevent it sinking. The inshore lifeboat returned to Howth harbour with the four people safely onboard and returned to the two lifeboat crew on the sinking vessel minutes later.
However the condition of the vessel had worsened and the two lifeboat crew onboard were unable to bail the water out. They had to quickly abandon the boat and swim the short distance back to shore as it had started to sink beneath them. The vessel was then quickly towed back to land due to a concern that it would cause a hazard if left abandoned in the area.
Commenting on the callout Howth RNLI lifeboat crewmember Ian Sheridan said; 'The good weather has brought an increase in the amount of people taking to the water. Thankfully conditions were calm and the four people involved in today's callout were all wearing personal floatation devices.
Before taking to the water there are things that people can do to ensure they stay safe or that can give them time if something goes wrong. They should always wear a lifejacket, carry a means of calling for assistance and check the engine and fuel before setting off. They should also tell others where they are going and what time they expect to return. In the event of an emergency on the water we would advise that people always dial 999 or 112 and ask for help.'
Descendants and relatives of the key participants will be guests of honour at these events, 100 years and a day after Erskine Childers' yacht delivered its cargo to the Irish Volunteers in their fight for home rule.
The programme begins with a wreath-laying ceremony at Glasnevin Cemetery at 9am, led by new Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys, in memory of the four members of the public shot at Bachelors Walk on Dublin's North Quays.
At 10am the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin city centre will hold a Mass in memory of the Bachelors Walk shooting victims, which will be attended by President Michael D Higgins.
The President will then join Minister Humphreys to address and lead the official commemoration ceremony by the Defence Forces at Howth Harbour's East Pier from 11.30am.
Following that, from 1pm the Asgard 100 Community Group will stage a re-enactment of the landing of arms, featuring a replica of the yacht Asgard and a flotilla of boats 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 26 July 1914 will be provided by members of the Asgard 100 group throughout the proceedings.
Then at 1.30pm President Higgins will view the Asgard replica dinghy constructed by the Asgard 100 group and presented to the National Museum of Ireland (NMI).
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, which is free and open to the public.
Indeed, visitors are encouraged to attend in period costume, and prizes will be presented to the best period dressed individual male or female, family and boat crew.
Speaking at the presentation of the replica dinghy to the NMI, Minister Humphreys said: “I am very grateful to the volunteers of Howth for their generosity in giving their time and expertise to assist us to commemorate this important event in our history.
"There is no doubt that the landing of arms in Howth was a significant milestone along the road to Easter 1916 and I am delighted to support arrangements to mark this centenary in an appropriate way.”
#RNLI - Howth RNLI continued a busy week of callouts on Wednesday evening (16 July) when the volunteer crew launched to assist a 27ft motorboat with no power drifting in the vicinity of the Nose of Howth.
The crew was alerted at 6.43pm following a distress call that a motorboat with two crew members aboard was drifting with no engine power at the mercy of the strong tide.
Weather conditions at the time were very good, with a light westerly Force 2 to 3 breeze and good visibility.
The Howth lifeboat, under coxswain Fred Connolly and with five other crew members on board, quickly located the casualty vessel and established a tow line to return the vessel and its occupants to the safety of Howth Harbour exactly an hour after the initial alert.
"The crew of the motorboat did the correct thing to call for help as soon as their vessel experienced engine trouble," said Connolly. "We are pleased that we were able to locate and tow the vessel to safety before it drifted closer to the shore."
Later that evening, Wicklow RNLI launched its all-weather lifeboat Annie Blaker to go to the aid of a 24ft yacht with mechanical problems off the Wicklow Coast.
The alarm was raised after the boat on passage south developed engine problems, With light wind, the yacht was unable to make any headway under sail, so the crew dropped anchor and contacted the Irish Coast Guard for assistance.
Wicklow's lifeboat, under the command of coxswain Nick Keogh, located the yacht – with two adults and a dog on board – one mile east of the Six Mile Point at 11.54pm. Conditions in the area were calm sea and light wind.
Crew member Kevin Rahill was transferred onto the yacht to establish a towline and assist the two sailors. Once the towline was rigged, the yacht was towed back to Wicklow Harbour, where it was safely secured alongside the East Pier by 1am.
The volunteer lifeboat crew was alerted at 3.25pm following a Mayday call that a 30ft passenger boat had ran aground onto rocks and was taking on water.
Weather conditions at the time were described as good, with a westerly Force 2 to 3 wind blowing.
The lifeboat, under coxswain Fred Connolly and with four crew members on board, made its way to the scene a mile and a half away from Howth Harbour.
On arrival at the scene, Howth RNLI observed that another boat had come to the assistance of the casualty vessel and was holding it in position ready for the lifeboat to come alongside. It then emerged that the stricken vessel was not taking on water.
The lifeboat crew proceeded to transfer all of the tourists from the passenger boat safely onto the lifeboat, before establishing a tow line and returning the vessel and its occupants safely to Howth Harbour with no medical assistance required.
Further north in Co Dublin, Skerries RNLI were even busier in the weekend days before, responding to two separate callouts to vessels in difficulty.
Shortly before 5.30pm on Friday (11 July) the volunteer crew launched their Atlantic 85 lifeboat Louis Simson following reports of a small motor craft broken down off Donabate beach.
The lifeboat, with David Knight at the helm and crewed by Rob Morgan, Joe May and Eoin Grimes, proceeded directly to the area where they quickly located the motor craft with two people on board.
Conditions on scene were calm with a Force 2 southerly wind. A tow was established and the vessel was brought safely to Howth.
The second callout came shortly before 10.30am on Saturday (12 July) when Dublin Coast Guard requested Skerries RNLI launch to assist a yacht that had fouled its propeller North of St Patrick's Island off Skerries.
The lifeboat launched with David Knight on helm and Conor Walsh, Rob Morgan and Stephen Crowley also on board. There was a Force 1 northerly breeze at the time of launch and visibility was slightly reduced due to a misty rain.
The lifeboat quickly located the 13m yacht, which had fouled its propeller on a lobster pot. The volunteer crew managed to free the yacht and tow them safely to Skerries Harbour, where they then freed the remaining obstruction from the propeller.
Skerries RNLI's third launch of the weekend was less urgent but no less important, as the volunteer crew carried out their regular training exercises on Sunday morning (13 July).
Speaking of the callouts, Skerries RNLI volunteer lifeboat press officer Gerry Canning said: "It was a busy weekend but our volunteers are always ready and willing to drop whatever they are doing to help anyone that is in difficulty at sea."
#squib – The key to a successful cruise is good organisation. Plan ahead, select your destination, ensure that the tide is going in a favourable direction, ensure that the facilities at your place of arrival are adequate for your group of cruisers, and that the weather is fine writes Vincent Delany.
A Squib class event was conceived on 12th June after club racing, to cruise on the following Saturday to Howth, on the opposite side of Dublin Bay, on the expectation of a fish and chip lunch at Beshoff's famous fish shop, followed by a leisurely pint at Howth Yacht Club.
All did not go to plan.
There was a high pressure system sitting over the east coast of Ireland on Saturday morning with about 1 knot of wind from the north. It took the seven squibs, (Jill, Conor and Dermot in Perfection, Vincent and Joe in Femme Fatale, Gerry and Elena in Buzz Lite, Sheila and Gilly in Little Demon, Rupert and Emily in Sidewinder, Fergal and Wendy in Aija and Derek and Jean in Why Not) at least an hour to sail from the Royal St George Yacht Club to the Dun Laoghaire Harbour mouth. At that rate of progress they were guaranteed not to have a favourable tide all the way to Howth Harbour. What should they do? It was agreed to raft up and put the thinking hats on! Then a small breeze from the north east appeared. Somebody suggested "Let's go to Clontarf.", the Squibs were pointed in the direction of Poolbeg where two venerable lighthouses mark the entrance to Dublin Port. En route we sailed through hundreds of large racing yachts looking for wind, and when they found it, trying to get it to stay in a constant direction to allow a Bloomsday race to start.
When the first Squibs reached Poolbeg lighthouses, they waited for the others to catch up, before entering the Dublin Port area where Clontarf is on the north shore. The tide was almost full in so there was plenty of depth, except in a few areas which were inevitably unmarked. As the Clontarf fleet were our racing, some moorings were lifted and some anchors dropped in the shallow water. Yes we did know that the moorings dry out at low water. Next question was, how do we get ashore? A launch appeared from nowhere, welcomed us to Clontarf, an asked us where we had come from, and enquired if we wanted to go ashore. Some headed straight to Beshoffs (yes there are two branches of Beshoffs, on in Howth and one in Clontarf.) while others went straight to the Yacht club for refreshment. Peter Reilly asked us if we would like to see the O'Brien Kennedy designed IDRA 14 footer which is currently being built at the back of the clubhouse by the members. She was progressing well with at least half the planking complete. When we came back to the front of the clubhouse the 15 hungry Squibs we consuming huge platters of sandwiches which had been quickly made by Mrs. O'Rourke. It turned out that Clontarf is celebrating the 100 year centenary of another invasion, from the Vikings, so the Squibs were invited to don some Viking helmets.
The Squibs make their way into Dublin Port
After about an hour of chat and gossip, it was time to check our boats in the falling tide. Yes they were all afloat with at least 300mm of water under the keels. An informal race was made out of the return trip, during which some Squibs were nearly run down by freighters entering Dublin Port. The light wind was from the south east, which meant that it was a beat all the way, but with a strong tide under us.
When only a few hundred yards from Dun Laoghaire harbour mouth, the wind disappeared entirely, so it was time to apply some paddle power.
In retrospect, spontaneity can be great fun. We should all spend more time cruising! .
As Newstalk reports, Thomas Reilly of Dublin's North Strand was convicted by a jury in January after the court heard he had lured British visitor Colin Ryder to the water's edge at Howth's West Pier before pushing him into the water.
Ryder sank under a boat moored at the pier-side but was rescued after nearby youths threw him a rope to drag him to safety.
The sentencing comes in what was a second trial over the incident for Reilly, who has 68 previous convictions, after a jury failed to agree a verdict in May last year.
Newstalk has much more on the story HERE.
#Antisocial - The Garda riot squad was put on alert at popular coastal spots in Dublin yesterday to avoid a repeat of the mass brawl in Howth on Saturday 31 May.
As The Irish Times reports, the Public Order Unit was sent in to Howth Harbour to disperse the crowd, said to comprise several hundred teenagers - many of whom were described as drunk and disorderly.
The Sunday Independent says up to 100 youths were involved in a fight that broke out among the gathering between two separate groups, though no arrests were made.
The same newspaper also spoke to a teenage girl who was caught up in the fracas with her friends.
Eva Drum from Ballymun says she was "punched, kicked, bitten and scraped" in the melee after rowdy teens suddenly attacked her group - and turned on her when she shouted at them to stop.
Dart services were suspended at Sutton station for a time on Saturday afternoon to prevent the crowds increasing.
#rnli – A member of Howth RNLI was honoured at the RNLI Annual Presentation of Awards at the Barbican Centre in London last Thursday (22 May 2014).
Rupert Jeffares, the Lifeboat Operations Manager with Howth RNLI, was awarded a Bar to the Gold Badge. This is the second highest award that is made by the charity. Rupert has dedicated 50 years to serving the RNLI and saving lives at sea. He joined the lifeboat crew in Howth in the mid-sixties and later took on the role of Lifeboat Operations Manager. In this volunteer role Rupert is in charge of authorising the launch of the lifeboat and the day-to-day station management.
Owen Medland, RNLI Divisional Operations Manager paid tribute to him, "Rupert Jeffares demonstrates the selflessness of the RNLI's volunteers ashore in support of our crews. He has given many years of continuous service in his role as Lifeboat Operations Manager, often forsaking family and work in support of Howth Lifeboat. It is such individuals that make the service world class and it is fantastic to see him acknowledged for his dedicated service."
"On behalf of everyone at Howth RNLI, I want to congratulate Rupert on his outstanding achievement. His award is richly deserved after years of tireless dedication to the lifeboat in Howth. This accolade demonstrates the high esteem in which Howth Lifeboat Station is held by the hierarchy of the RNLI", commented Russell Rafter, Chairman of Howth RNLI.
#youthsailing – Séafra Guilfoyle from Cork has beaten off stiff competition to win the Laser Radial division of the Irish Youth Sailing Championships at Howth Yacht Club today. A reported 250 sailors were competing across five classes since Thursday, with Saturday blown out and the regatta sailed in mainly in light to medium conditions.
Up for grabs at the annual youth event which was entirely single–hander based (except for a fleet of 13 double–handed 420s) were places on squads and teams for international events.
Overall results for each class (Laser radial, 4.7, Topper, 420 and Optimist) are downloadable below as jpeg files.
Only one point separated Séafra Guilfoyle and fellow Royal Cork Yacht Club member Cian Byrne after the first race today. Both sailors were again neck and neck for the second race which left them tied on points and all to play for in the ninth and final race of the championship.
When it came down to the last race this afternoon Guilfoyle and Byrne were tied on points so the pressure was really on for both of them to perform. The final turned in to a match race between the pair who both finished mid-fleet. But discarding those points, it was Séafra who came out on top with 24 points. Cian finished on 25 points to take the silver while another Corkonian; Ross O'Sullivan from Kinsale scooped the bronze. Sarah Eames from Ballyholme Yacht Club finished seventh overall and takes the prize for first girl.
Guilfoyle, a past Irish Optimist champion, took to Twitter to pass on the news of his latest success:
Youth national champion! Qualified for the youth worlds in July absolutely delighted!— Séafra Guilfoyle (@SeafraGuilfoyle) April 27, 2014
In the 420 double-handed class local Howth sailors Robert Dickson & Sean Waddilove won the regatta with a race to spare. The 2013 champions are currently in transition year and have spent their academic year studying in France where they have also been able to put in a lot of training and competition time on the water. And their hard work certainly paid off. They put in a solid performance over the three days which shows in their results of 1, 1, 2, 2, 4, 2, 2, 2, 2. Finishing in second place overall were Peter McCann & Arran Walsh from Royal Cork and in third as well as first girls were the McDowell cousins Lizzie and Cara from Malahide.
In the Laser 4.7 class overnight leader Nicole Hemeryck took the first race win of the day to extend her lead by seven points. Johnny Durcan from Cork was 2nd which moved him up to 2nd overall. His win in race five, along with the discard coming in to play, then narrowed the gap to five points. But even a win in the final race for Johnny wasn't enough to catch Nicole who is the new 2014 ISA Laser 4.7 Champion. An impressive feat for the Dun Laoghaire girl who only recently graduated from the junior Topper class to the Laser. Settling for silver was Johnny Durcan followed by Conor Sherriff in third.
In the Topper class Hugh Perrette knocked Geoff Power off the top spot after the first race of the day and held on to that position for the rest of the championship. Of the six races, the National Yacht Club sailor won four which along with a 3rd and discarded 8th was enough for him to claim the gold. Geoff Power from Waterford was 2nd overall while Heather Spain from the National Yacht Club earned both third place overall and first girl.