Journal Volume 2 1995
The Landing of Arms and Ammunition at Kilcoole, County Wicklow by the Irish National Volunteers in 1914 (continued/7)
By 3 am on the Sunday morning the landing operation was over and the ‘Chotah’ sailed off. On the beach, the Irish Volunteers lined up four deep and arming themselves with any of weapons left over, marched up to the Village proper singing ‘A Nation Once Again’, ‘Clare’s Dragoons’ and ‘ God Save Ireland’ where they joined their transport vehicles and then returned to their respective destinations. The last act of the rearguard party as they left the village was to release the two policemen and to collect the pickets which had been placed on the approaches to warn of the arrival of the authorities should the operation have been detected while in progress.
While the convoy was on the way back to Dublin the two released policemen found that communications with the outside world had been cut off and it was left to Constable Webb to board the 3.30 am train to Bray where on arrival in that town he raced up from the railway station along the Quinsboro Road to the police barracks which at that time lay beside what is now part of the Royal Hotel. He sounded the alarm and immediately the police in the district went on the alert, but by the time the check points had been put in place the convoy with the arms and ammunition was back in Dublin.
On arrival at St. Enda’s in Rathfarnham it was discovered that a vehicle was missing and immediately another lorry was sent out to locate the missing one, which was located on the outskirts of Bray where it had broken down. Those in this vehicle had the presence of mind to hide the cargo in neighbouring houses and with the arrival of the rescue vehicle the cargo was retrieved and transported to Dublin for redistribution.
From St. Enda’s the arms and ammunition were distributed to the various Volunteer units. Preference was given to those individuals who were I.R.B. members or supporters, as Pearse did not trust followers of John Redmond who wanted the arms to be sent to Belfast to protect the Catholics there from sectarian attacks.
Thus ended the Kilcoole operation. By August 4th 1914 Britain was embroiled in World War I and no further gun running operations could be mounted by the Irish Volunteers. Interestingly enough no action was taken by the authorities against Childers, Connor O’Brien or Sir Thomas Myles or anyone else who took part in either this operation or Howth.
By the middle of September the Irish National Volunteers had split into two distinct groups - the Irish Volunteers who decided not to assist the British for the duration of World War I and who took part in the Easter Rising of 1916 with members of the Irish Citizens Army, using as part of their armoury, the weapons and ammunition which had been landed in Howth and Kilcoole in 1914.
The other group - the National Volunteers - supported John Redmond and his belief that by enlisting in the British armed forces, Home Rule would be granted at the end of hostilities. This never happened. The Home Rule Bill received the Royal Assent in September 1914, was immediately suspended for the duration of World War I and at the end of that conflict was repealed by the Government of Ireland Act (1920) which allowed for the partition of the island and laid the foundations for the establishment of two separate states within the island - the modem day Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland which remains part of the United Kingdom.
Today on the beach at Kilcoole, a stone marker reminds the visitor of the events that took place there in 1914.
- Ireland Three - Union to Present Dai by M.K.Collins. Dublin 1972
- The Howth Gun—Running (and the Kilcoole Gun—Running) Recollections and
Documents edited by F.X. Martin, O.S.A. Dublin 1964
- The Bray and South Dublin Herald
- The Bray People
- The North Wicklow Times
- The Wicklow People