19/06/2012 Deenihan Welcomes Recovery of Anchors from 1916 Gun Running Ship – ‘The Aud’

Divers working this week to recover two anchors from the wreck of the 1916 German gun running ship, the Aud, located in Cobh Harbour have successfully retrieved the first of the anchors earlier today (Tuesday 19th June, 2012).   The diving operation has been licensed by Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht, under the National Monuments Acts.  The dive team is led by County Waterford based diver, Mr. Eoin McGarry, and Tralee based archaeologist, Lar Dunne of Laurence Dunne Archaeology.

The Minister said that the recovery of the anchors was “very timely in that it will provide a tangible link between the two places most closely associated with the story of the Aud and the commemoration of the related events in 1916 that shaped the modern history of our nation.”  He added that the story surrounding the capture and sinking of the Aud also highlights “the less talked about place of the 1916 Rising in the broader context of World War I and the conflicting loyalties the war gave rise to here in Ireland”.

Originally an English merchant vessel captured by the Germans in 1914, the renamed Aud was disguised as a Norwegian freighter and despatched to Ireland in 1916 to deliver a shipment of arms for the Easter Rising. It arrived off the Kerry coast on April 20th but, due to confused communications, it was unsuccessful in landing its cargo as planned in Fenit Harbour.

The ship was subsequently intercepted by the Royal Navy while attempting to escape into the deeper waters of the Atlantic. While under escort to Queenstown Harbour, now Cobh, Co. Cork, the Captain of the Aud, Karl Spindler, scuttled the ship rather than have it fall into enemy hands.

The anchors will be conserved under the supervision of Ian Panter, Principal Conservator of York Archaeological Trust in accordance with the requirements of the National Museum of Ireland. Both anchors are destined for display in suitable locations, one to be provided by Tralee and Fenit Harbour Commissioners and the other by Cobh Town Council. The conservation process will take approximately two years and the anchors will be ready to be shown to the public in time for the centenary of the 1916 Rising.

The Minister welcomed the initiative of everyone involved in the recovery of the anchors and thanked the Tralee and Fenit Harbour Commissioners and Cobh Town Council for providing suitable long-term display facilities. He added that “special tribute was due to the Fenit Heritage Association which is funding the conservation work”.

The wreck of the Aud belongs to the State and, while the artefacts will be on display in Cobh and Fenit, they remain the property of the Irish State.

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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