Asgard in Pictures

TCD MS 7890/8/76

Asgard, the yacht owned by Robert Erskine Childers and used in the Howth gun-running of 1914, has recently been restored and is the focus of a new display in the National Museum of Ireland.

M&ARL holds the papers of Robert Erskine Childers (1870-1922), Irish nationalist, writer and father of the president of the same name. Within this collection is a wonderful group of photographs (TCD MS 7890/8) recording the history of Asgard. A selection of these are displayed as part of the NMI exhibition.

Commissioned as a wedding gift for Erskine and Molly Childers in 1905, Asgard is most famous for the part she played in transporting a shipment of arms for the Irish Volunteers in May 1914. Childers, his wife and a small crew agreed to collect part of the haul in the 51ft yacht, transporting 900 rifles and 29,000 rounds of ammunition from Germany to Howth. The ammunition was to be used in the 1916 Easter rising.

Somehow they also found time to take photographs to record the mission. TCD MS 7890/8 includes pictures of Mary Spring Rice and Molly Childers with guns aboard the Asgard and a number of the Irish volunteers at Howth assembled to receive the shipment.

Asgard was put into long-term dry dock in Northern Wales after the Easter rising. She was procured by the Irish government in 1961 and was used as the first national sail-training vessel until 1974.

 The restoration project has taken 5 years and the permanent exhibition Asgard: The Howth Gun-Running Vessel Conserved, opened on 9 Aug at the National Museum Collins Barracks.

Estelle Gittins