Some of you no doubt, have been reading reports in the media and on sites such as this about the controversy surrounding the historical anchor of the ‘Aud’ – the German arms ship which was scuttled 8 miles outside Cork harbour on Good Friday 1916, after been arrested by the British Navy.
The capture of the Aud put paid to any real success of the planned Rising, as it sank to the bottom with 20.000 rifles, machine guns and a million rounds of ammunition. The current controversy of the anchor today centers around whether it should remain on public display at Cobh Heritage Centre or be re-allocated on Spike Island.
On 12th September last, the members of Cobh Municipal Council debated and unanimously agreed to keep the anchor in Cobh. The National Museum will ultimately decide however, whether the anchor will stay or go.
During that council debate, a voice in favour of moving the anchor to Spike argued that Spike was the only piece of Irish Soil that the German Crew set foot on in 1916. As the mover of the motion to keep the anchor in Cobh, I thought the case made to move the anchor was a flimsy and weak one, and countered that the purpose for the German Aud coming to Ireland had been much greater than what happened outside our harbour or afterwards on Spike – a British military detention centre and place where Captain Spindler and his crew were taken against their will.
No, I argued that as Cobh was the only town in East Cork that had a Company of Volunteers that turned out for the Easter Rising in 1916, and given that they and their comrades from Cork City and County were about to march to Kerry to collect the German weapons from the Aud and to distribute them to other volunteer units up the west coast as part of an all-out rebellion, that Cobh had a much greater historical claim to host the Aud anchor than the former British Detention Centre on Spike.
To strengthen this argument further, I have chosen the following chapter from my book ‘Republican Cobh & The East Cork Volunteers’ to demonstrate the historical point that the 4th Batt IRA, which was founded, trained and led by the Cobh Volunteers, was one of the most professionally organised volunteer Batt’s of the 1st Cork Brigade.
Under the leadership of Cobh’s Mick Leahy, the 4th Batt went on to capture the first RIC barracks in Ireland since 1916 when they took the surrender of Carrigtwohill Barracks.
The following account, I believe will demonstrate the gallant efforts made by the Cobh and East Cork men when taking the capture of Carrigtwohill RIC Barracks. For me, the historical significance of this and other 4 Batt operations makes such a claim very loudly.
It should also be pointed out that ‘A Company’ or the Cobh Company of the 4th Battalion as it was known, existed long before other areas of East Cork were organised and developed into the 4th Batt.
Later, when any operation involving the 4th Batt was carried out in East Cork, including those carried out by the regional Flying Column, members of A Company were always there in the thick of it.
Please read on and see if you agree with me. Perhaps you might later express an opinion comment afterwards.
Revisit Cobh’s Rebel Past with writer, historian and active member of the Cobh 1916 Centenary Committee - Kieran McCarthy.
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