08/08/12 – Minister Deenihan Launches Asgard Exhibition
Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht will today (Wednesday 8th August 2012) launch a new permanent exhibition at the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks entitled Asgard: The 1914 Howth Gun Running Vessel Conserved.
The yacht Asgard, an iconic item of Irish heritage and history, was formerly owned by the Irish nationalist and writer Erskine Childers and his wife Molly. Asgard was built in 1905 by one of Norway’s most famous boat designers to the specifications of the newly married couple.
Asgard’s most famous voyage in 1914 was part of a gun-running expedition. Childers, his wife and a small crew made the channel crossing into Howth harbour just north of Dublin, laden with a hold full of rifles from Germany to arm the Irish Volunteers. This gun-running expedition had been undertaken in response to the arming of the Ulster Volunteers by the Larne gun-running in April of that year.
Commenting on the launch of this important exhibition at the National Museum of Ireland, Minister Deenihan said:
“This launch is the culmination of five years of work, dedication, attention to detail and skill, all of which were vital components in the restoration and conservation of Asgard.
“The design and building of a yacht takes great technical ability as well as artistic skill. However, restoring a yacht that is over a century old, in a way that is sensitive to the original materials and designs, is an undertaking on a different level again. The task is even more complicated when the vessel is cherished as an item of national heritage.
“Asgard links us directly to the tumultuous times, a hundred years ago, when the futures of Ireland, the United Kingdom and Europe were about to change. The launch of this exhibition presents an opportunity to reflect on the complexities of the time and to remember Erskine Childers in the range of identities and roles – as a writer and sailor, as a soldier of the Empire who became an Irish Nationalist, and as a Republican that could not be reconciled to the outcome of the struggle, even as a member of the Treaty delegation.
“I hope that through scholarship and research in the coming years we will enhance our knowledge of the revolutionary age. I would like to acknowledge all that has been done to prepare this special exhibition and to thank all those involved. I will encourage everyone to come to see Asgard and the associated exhibition that tells her story and acknowledges the achievement of Erskine and Molly Childers and the other crew members of May, 1914.”