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ASGARD: The conserved 1914 Howth gun running vessel goes on display at the National Museum of Ireland



31st July 2012

Seamus Lynam, Acting Director of the National Museum of Ireland is pleased to announce the opening of a new permanent exhibition entitled Asgard: The 1914 Howth gun running vessel conserved at The National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks in Dublin, which will be launched by Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht on Wednesday 8 August at 6.00pm.

The yacht Asgard is one of the most iconic items of recent Irish history. From her building in 1905 by Colin Archer, the great Norwegian naval architect, for Erskine and Molly Childers to her pivotal role in the 1914 Howth gun-running and her later use as Ireland’s first national sail-training vessel, the yacht has had many incarnations. Her story is intertwined with many of the wider episodes of 20th-century Irish history, and these can be explored in our other exhibitions in Collins Barracks, ‘The Easter Rising: Understanding 1916’ and ‘Soldiers and Chiefs: Irish Soldiers at Home and Abroad Since 1500’.

Speaking in advance of the launch, Minister Deenihan said –

“The restoration of Erskine Childers’ historic yacht Asgard is an important contribution to the commemorative programme marking the centenary of the years that shaped modern Ireland. I am delighted that this major conservation project has been completed by the National Museum of Ireland and that the yacht will now be exhibited for public viewing at Collins Barracks. I would encourage everyone to come and see Asgard and the associated exhibition that tells her story and acknowledges the achievement of Erskine and Molly Childers and the other crew members who brought a shipment of arms for the Irish Volunteers to Howth in May, 1914.“

From 2007 to 2011, a major programme of conservation of Asgard was undertaken by the National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks. The conservation team was led by Master Shipwright and Ship Conservator John Kearon, with the aim of conserving the vessel and in the process saving and securing as much of the existing original components as possible, while also retaining the structural integrity of the vessel.

Sandra Heise, Curator of the ‘Asgard’ exhibition commented; “Supported by artefacts from the national collections, the National Museum of Ireland’s ‘Asgard’ exhibition aims to tell the yacht’s story from her commissioning as a wedding gift for Erskine and Molly Childers in 1905, to her role in the Howth gun-running and her eventual use as Ireland’s first national sail-training vessel, and finally the major conservation project conducted in Collins Barracks from 2007 to 2012”

‘Asgard is now on display with a partial reconstruction of how the vessel was rigged.’

This permanent exhibition opens to the public from Thursday 9th August 2012.

For further press information please contact:

Maureen Gaule

Marketing Department, National Museum of Ireland

Tel: 01 – 6486429 Mobile 087 9031690



Notes to the Editor:


• On 28th May 1914, Darrell Figgis the Irish write and political activist and Erskine Childers,

Writer and republican, author of the Riddle of the Sands and father of Erskine Childers, 4th

 President of Ireland, travelled to Hamburg, where they negotiated the purchase of 1,500 rifles and 49,000 rounds of ammunition from the arms firm of Moritz Magnus Jnr. The Mauser rifles they purchased dated to the 1870s and had previously been used by the German army. With Roger Casement acting as liaison between the London committee and the Irish Volunteers in Dublin, it was arranged that Childers would collect the arms shipment from Darrell Figgis in his yacht Asgard. Half of the shipment was to be collected by the yacht Kelpie, owned and skippered by Conor O’Brien, cousin of Mary Spring Rice. In the event, Asgard took 900 rifles and 29,000 rounds of ammunition, with Kelpie taking the smaller portion.

• Transfer of the arms to the yacht involved five hours of strenuous work, the rifles being unpacked from canvas bales and straw and stowed below the yacht’s deck. Every available space was filled, with the crew on the journey to Howth sleeping on mattresses placed on top of the stacked rifles.

• The National Museum of Ireland acknowledges with grateful thanks the donations, sponsorship and assistance of the following;

o Norwegian Embassy

o Fleetwood Paints

o IQ Signage

o Brambles Catering

• The National Museum of Ireland - Decorative Arts & History, Collins Barracks, Dublin 7 is open from 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Saturday and from 2pm to 5pm on Sundays. Closed Mondays and Bank Holidays. ADMISSION is FREE OF CHARGE.  

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