Tuesday 17 October 2017

Almost 100 years on, anchors surface from gun-run ship

Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

THE FIRST anchor was brought above water just before noon from the seabed where it had lain attached to the wreck of the most famous gun-running ship in Irish history.

Yesterday, a team of marine archeologists and divers recovered the two anchors of the much-storied Aud.

The German ship was scuttled in Cork Harbour in 1916 with 20,000 Russian rifles, 10 machine guns and five million rounds of ammunition that were bound for the Irish Volunteers still on board.

The second anchor was recovered just before 1pm, off the coast of Cobh in Co Cork.

It was the culmination of over two years work by the team that will now begin a three-year conservation of the anchors ahead of the centenary celebrations of the 1916 Rising.

By then it is hoped that one of the anchors -- an admiralty pattern anchor --will go on permanent display in Fenit, Co Kerry. The second one, a stockless anchor, will be returned to Cobh.

Last night, the precious objects were making their way by truck to Tralee, Co Kerry.

There, marine archeologist Laurence Dunne, who headed the recovery expedition with Dungarvan diver Eoin McGarry, will begin the conservation.

Historic

Mr Dunne was on board the Ron Carraig, skippered by Gavin Tivy, in Cork Harbour yesterday to witness the anchors being lifted aboard.

The first to be recovered weighs about half a tonne, while the second one weighs significantly more -- between one and a half and two tonnes.

"It's a wonderful day and a historic occasion for everyone involved," Mr Dunne said.

"There was quite a flotilla that accompanied us out to sea, made up of people from Cork, Kerry and Waterford who have followed this project.

"It really was an historic event and the first time we've had a local endeavour with communities. It will be a template for the future of how we're going to do work like this."

The famous gun run of 1916 was masterminded by Roger Casement, using the German ship, the SMS Libau disguised as a Norwegian liner and renamed the Aud.

It had been decided that Mr Casement would travel to Fenit in Co Kerry by U-boat to meet with the Aud. But this never happened and he was captured by the British near Tralee.

Having successfully evaded a number of British Navy patrols, the Aud anchored off the Magharee Islands in Tralee Bay on April 20, 1916.

After leaving Tralee Bay the Aud was captured by a British flotilla and escorted to Cobh.

At the entrance to Cork Harbour, the crew donned their German uniforms and ran up their colours before scuttling the Aud. They were subsequently interned for the rest of the war.

Mr Casement was later hanged for treason.

The expedition was licensed by Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan and monitored by the Underwater Archeology Unit of the National Monuments Service.

Irish Independent

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