Interception of German gunrunning ship during the Easter Rising – 23 April 1916

sms libau

SMS Libau

SS Aud was a temporary name given to SMS Libau as part of her attempt to carry arms to Ireland.  The vessel was built in Hull, England in 1907 and named SS Castro but had been captured by the Imperial German Navy in the Kiel Canal in August 1914 and renamed SMS Libau.  She had a similar appearance to a Norwegian vessel, SS Aud, so was repainted as such to disguise herself.  She sailed from Germany on 09 April 1916 with a crew of 23 volunteers dressed as ‘Norwegians’ carrying an estimated 10 machine guns, 20,000 Mosin-Nagant rifles (captured from the Russians), around 1,000,000 rounds of ammunition and a quantity of explosives.  Her disguise enabled her to avoid contact with the Royal Navy as she traveled up the coast of Norway, passing close to the Arctic Circle then down the West Coast of Ireland.
hms bluebell

HMS Bluebell

Radio intelligence had alerted the British that a landing of arms was soon to be attempted, placing the Royal Navy based at Queenstown Co Cork on high alert.  SS Aud arrived off Fenit Harbour in Tralee Bay on 20 April 1916 where she was due to meet Roger Casement, a British Diplomat of Irish origins who had obtained German support for the rebellion.  Casement had arrived on board U-19, landing to the North at Banna Strand and was soon captured.  He was later executed for treason. Having failed to make contact with Casement or his men, SS Aud made for Germany but was intercepted by HMS Bluebell on 23 April 1916.  She was ordered to proceed to Queenstown however the crew scuttled the ship at the entrance to the harbour.  Having changed into their Kriegsmarine Uniforms to avoid being treated as spies, they were interned for the remainder of the war. Artefacts from SS Aud are on display at Cork Public Museum.  The ship’s two anchors were recovered in 2012 and were due to go on display in Fenit and Cork in time for the centenary.

JUTLAND SQUARE New Wall Art Installation Commemorates Lost Jutland Sailors From These Shores

A new wall art installation in North Belfast will commemorate sailors from all over Ireland who lost their lives at the Battle of Jutland, the centenary of which falls on 31st May 2016. The Jutland Square project, funded by the NIHE Community Cohesion Unit, takes as its canvas a former graffiti black spot on Tennent Street and re-images it into a seven panel art installation created by the Shared History Workshop, using research by Karen O’Rawe. Included in the project, which has been commissioned by the Spectrum Centre-based City Of Belfast ABF (Army Benevolent Fund) group, will be an exhibition on HMS Caroline, the sole surviving warship from the Battle of Jutland, and a series of community films and lectures about the Battle by Sea Cadet officer Lt Cdr Leslie King. Exploring the theme of Youth at War, the project will also involve young people from the Greater Shankill area. Northern Ireland’s First Minister, DUP MLA Arlene Foster - who oversaw the restoration of HMS Caroline as DETI minister - will launch the Jutland Square project at the Spectrum Centre, 331 Shankill Road, Belfast at 2pm on Friday 15th April 2016. Commenting on the project, Pete Bleakley from the Shared History Workshop said, “Having run the Friends Of HMS Caroline campaign back in 2012 it gives me considerable satisfaction to be able to bring the story of the ship and the Battle Of Jutland to a wider audience through this exciting NIHE-funded project. Excellent research from History Hub Ulster means that for the first time we have a memorial to all the men from these shores who lost their lives in World War One’s biggest sea battle.” Karen O’Rawe from History Hub Ulster commented, “The Jutland Square Project is a timely reminder of the sacrifice of so many men from these shores who fought at sea. The maritime war and the impact of it on our island tends to be overlooked, but as an island nation, keeping the seas safe and the supplies flowing to feed the people of Britain and Ireland was vital.  Belfast will mark the centenary of the Battle of Jutland with a Commemoration to the Irish Sailor which will officially recognise the contribution of all those in maritime roles on the island of Ireland during the First World War period.”

1932 – Belfast’s forgotten year?

  1932 - Belfast’s forgotten year? As part of a major new Shared History project including a play by Gary Mitchell & Martin Lynch: 1932: The People Of Gallagher St, Green Shoot Productions is holding a series of PUBLIC TALKS at the Linen Hall Library in April, May and June. Involving three panels of leading researchers, commentators, and artists and chaired by Dawn Purvis, the TALKS highlight the events of 1932 that brought Northern Ireland to the brink of revolution and create opportunities for an exploration of the themes and responses and relevance for today. Belfast 1932 Talks