Journal Volume 2 1995

The Landing of Arms and Ammunition at Kilcoole, County Wicklow by the Irish National Volunteers in 1914 (continued/6)

As darkness fell, the Volunteers began to converge on Kilcoole and carefully it was isolated from the outside world lest details of the operation about to unfold leaked to the authorities. Telegraphic communications were disconnected and pickets were placed on all the approach roads to warn those down at the beach of the arrival of the authorities. As Volunteers arrived in motorised vehicles, they dismounted and made their way on foot to the beach while the vehicles were parked in the grounds of the Holy Faith Convent. The only vehicles which were brought down to the beach were those forming the convoy to bring the arms to Dublin and the size of this convoy has been quoted by some sources as:

3 motor lorries

6 motor cars

12 motor cycles with sidecars

While Kilcoole had an R.I.C. barracks, this did not feature in the night’s operation and it is not known if those attached to it were told to keep clear of the operation; kept clear of it themselves as possibly they supported the aims of the Volunteers, or simply decided due to the numbers of Volunteers in the village to keep out of the way, and mind their own business. Down at the beach the Volunteers lay hidden pending the arrival of the ‘Chotah’ and after a while a vessel was seen coming into Ballygannon Point and began to flash a series of pre-arranged signals which indicated that it was the ‘Chotah’. Replies were given from on-shore and the ‘Chotah’ came in as near as possible to the beach to facilitate unloading. Once in position, a number of small boats which had sailed down the coast for this operation went out to the ‘Chotah’ where those on board began to hand down the rifles and ammunition which were then ferried ashore.

As these boats came in Volunteers waded through the surf to unload them and to place the arms and ammunition in the waiting motor convoy. Backwards and forwards these boats went until the cargo was unloaded. However all this activity had not gone unnoticed. To the south of Kilcoole a fireworks display in Wicklow provided a welcome backdrop but the exchange of light signals had been seen by two police men, Constables Dalton and Webb from the Greystones R.I.C. Station who had the task of patrolling the railway line from Greystones to Kilcoole and back. During their patrol they spotted the ‘Chotah’ lying at anchor in Ballygannon Point which they knew was not an anchorage point normally used and they decided to investigate further. As they got nearer they saw the exchange of light signals and this immediately aroused their suspicions

They decided to head for Kilcoole Railway Station from where they could contact their superiors in Greystones as they were aware that the Kilcoole Station was a good mile from where they were. As they neared the station they were surrounded by local men, armed with batons who indicated to them that they should proceed with them to Kilcoole Village. The two policemen protested but when revolvers were produced they realised that resistance was futile and went under protest with the Volunteers to Kilcoole Village where they were kept under guard. In the village they noticed that the place was full of Irish Volunteers and that some type of operation was in progress at the same time noting the absence of the local inhabitants.


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