Limerick's gunrunners 1914
Castleconnell Historical Society
8pm Wednesday 14 January 2015, Shannon Inn, Castleconnell
- January 1913: Ulster Volunteer Force founded
- Tuesday 25 November 1913: Irish Volunteers launched
- Friday 5 December 1913: Royal Proclamation published in The
London Gazette prohibiting, under the provisions of the
Customs Consolidation Act, 1876, the importation of arms and ammunition
- Saturday 25 April 1914: Larne gun-running
- Friday 8 May: Committee meets at Alice Stopford Green's
house in London:
- Roger Casement
- Erskine and Molly
- Lord Ashbourne
- Sir Alexander Lawrence
- Alice Young
- Mary Spring Rice
- Captain Berkeley
- Min Ryan
- Conor O'Brien
- Hugh O'Brien
- Monday 25 May: House of Commons passes Third Home Rule Bill
(Government of Ireland Act 1914)
- Sunday 28 June: Archduke Ferdinand assassinated
- Monday 29 June: Kelpie sets sail from
- Sunday 12 July: 1500 rifles loaded on Gladiator
at Hamburg; 900 rifles transferred to Asgard and
600 rifles transferred to Kelpie near the Ruytigen
lightship in the North Sea off the Dutch coast
- Saturday 25 July: Kelpie's cargo
transferred to Chotah in St. Tudwell's Roads,
twenty miles west of Bardsey Island in Cardigan harbour
- Sunday 26 July: 900 rifles landed at Howth by Asgard
- Tuesday 28 July: Austria declares war on Serbia
- Sunday 2 August: 600 rifles landed at Kilcoole by Chotah
- Monday 3 August: United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Ireland declares war on Germany
- Monday 3 August: General
Sir Thomas Kelly-Kenny proposed as a leader for the Irish
Volunteers by Sir Thomas Myles
- Friday 18 September: Government of Ireland Act 1914 and
Suspensory Act 1914 received the royal assent, so the former was never
put into operation
- counterblast to the Larne gun-running? (Diarmuid
BMH witness statement)
- for volunteers "restive for the lack of arms"? (Tim
- for show?
- for publicity?
- for presentation to senior nationalists, like John Daly of
Barrington Street? (See 1916 monument)
- against the Unionists?
- against the Germans?
- against the British? (1916 Rising)
- Even Conor O Brien was uncertain:
"I, to be in the fashion, had put my yacht at the
disposal of the other side. If I were asked which other side, I should
have to admit that I knew as little as my employers did, so obscure
were Irish politics in 1914; by the other side I mean not Ulster."
- Asgard (51ft. 27.5 ton gaff rigged
cutter, now on permanent display in Collins Barracks, Dublin)
- Kelpie (26 ton ketch, built in 1871, ran
ashore on the Scottish coast and was wrecked in 1921)
- (Edward) Conor Marshall O Brien (owner) (b. England)
- Kitty O Brien (his sister) (b. England)
Diarmuid James Coffey (b. Dublin)
- George Cahill (b. Limerick)
- Tom Fitzsimons (b. Limerick)
- Hervey de Montmorency (boarded at Cowes, left after one
- Chotah (48 ton, 60 ft. cutter, engine
powered, largest of the three yachts, no surviving picture)
- Sir Thomas Myles (owner) (b. Limerick)
- James Creed Meredith (b. Dublin)
- Hervey de Montmorency (b. Gibraltar)
- George Cahill
- Tom Fitzsimons
Myles's own description:
the Chotah was 60 ft. overall,
straight stemmed, 14 ft. beam. She carried relatively more canvass but
in a breeze when on a wind the side of the dining table was one moment
on a level with your nose and the next in your lap.
The Limerick people aboard
Conor O Brien and Kitty O Brien were siblings.
Mary Spring-Rice was their second cousin.
All three were greatgrandchildren of Thomas Spring-Rice, 1st
(1790-1866), and all three were born in London, as their parents were
essentially absentee landlords!
Monteagle's statue stands in the People's Park, Pery
Conor O'Brien (1880-1952)
- Edward William O'Brien of Cahermoyle (son of William Smith
O'Brien) married twice:
- On 8 Sep 1863 in Loghill to Mary Spring-Rice,
granddaughter of 1st Baron Monteagle
- On 31 Jan 1880 in St Mary Abbott's, Kensington to Julia
Mary Garth Marshall, another granddaughter of 1st Baron Monteagle
- Edward Conor Marshall O Brien, first child of the second
marriage, born 3 November 1880 at the O Briens' London residence, 24
- John Nicholas Walsh in his recent memoir recalls his first
meeting with Conor O Brien, shortly after he moved to Foynes in 1927:
`When he sailed into Foynes I was anxious to see the
hero and when he moved to the quay, presumably to take in supplies, I
was there. What a shock! No one had warned me of his infamous temper.
Of all the foulmouthed sailors he must have been the King; a far cry
from the modest heroes of my schoolboy reading; I left after a few
minutes. Years later when I came across his book Across Three
Oceans the first few chapters brought back the recollection
and I abandoned it, although I did read and enjoy it later.'
- biographies have been written by Judith Hill (In
Search of Islands: A Life of Conor O'Brien) and by Pádraic de
Bhaldraithe (Loingseoir na Saoirse)
- sailed his yacht Saoirse around the
world, south of the three capes, in 1925.
- married Kitty Clausen in London on 10 October 1928; she
died on 27 July 1936.
- Conor died at Foynes on 18 April 1952 and was buried at
Kitty O'Brien (1885-1951)
- Conor's younger sister, born in England 24 October 1885
- mate and cook aboard Kelpie
- not to be confused with her sister-in-law, also Kitty
O'Brien, née Clausen, who painted her portrait above
- lived in London, Cornwall and Wicklow at different stages
of her life
- died on 13 January 1951 at the Meath Hospital in Dublin and
buried in Mount Jerome, Dublin
Mary Spring-Rice (1880-1924)
- Stephen Edward Spring-Rice (1814-1865) predeceased his
father the 1st Baron Monteagle (1790-1866)
- Stephen's son Thomas Spring-Rice (1849-1926) succeeded his
grandfather as 2nd Baron Monteagle
- The 2nd Baron's daughter Mary Spring-Rice was born in
London on 14 September 1880
- The Spring-Rices' London residence was 17a
Onslow Gardens, seven minutes walk
from their cousins the O Briens
- Mary was involved in the Gaelic League and other
- She died of TB in a Sanatorium in Wales on 1 December 1924
and was buried at Mount Trenchard.
George Cahill (1888-1921)
- of Barracks Cross, Foynes
- Son of Timothy Cahill and his second wife Martha Halpin (married 9 October 1878 in Shanagolden)
- not as stated in booklet, according to limerick.rootsireland.ie
- later became a merchant seaman
- died of malaria in September 1921 while his ship was in the
port of Constanta near Bucharest in Romania, where he is buried.
Tom Fitzsimons (1894-1976)
- of Foynes Island
- Son of James Fitzsimons and Anna Walsh; baptised in Shanagolden parish on
2 March 1894.
- loved to sing the local Kelpie ballad composed in Foynes
many years later.
- left Foynes Island in 1952 and later lived with his sister
in Kilcornan and then in a house on the farm of his Hogan nephews.
- died on 24 March 1976 and buried in Knockpatrick Cemetery
- believed to have been the last surviving gunrunner
Sir Thomas Myles (1857-1937)
- Son of John Myles, merchant, and his second wife
- On 13 March 1855:
- John Thomas Myles, first child of John Myles,
born in Catherine
- Thomas Waldron jr., second child of Thomas
Waldron sr., born in Castleconnell (father and son both R.I.C. men)
- On 16 July 1799, Thomas Waldron jr.'s greatgreatuncle
Thomas Parker had married John Thomas Myles's greataunt Hannah Myles at
St. George's Church
- On 20 April 1857, Thomas Myles, second child of John Myles,
also born in Catherine Street
- Later moved to 13 Upper Mallow Street.
- The brothers Jack and Tom Myles, although separated by more
than two years in age, were both admitted to Trinity College on the
same date, January 22, 1873, aged 17 and 15 respectively.
- See Index to Trinity
College Dublin student admission register, 1868-1879 and Trinity
matriculation register, 1847-1876, Entrance books 1847-1876
- Both brothers had previously been educated in Limerick by
Rev. James John Hall (d.1874) the principal of the Diocesan
School on Roxborough Road
(completed in 1838 to a design by James Pain, but no longer extant)
- Their College tutor was Dr. George Ferdinand Shaw (1821-99)
- A generation earlier (1848), Shaw was present in the rooms
Kells Ingram (1823-1907) in House 30 in Trinity on the night
when the latter wrote The Memory of the Dead,
better known as Who fears to speak of '98
- He was briefly the first editor of The
Irish Times in 1859
- Shaw's recent tutees had included Bram Stoker (1847-1912)
- G. F. Shaw should not be confused with his apparently
unrelated contemporary George Carr Shaw (1814-85), father of George
Bernard Shaw (1856-1950).
- Not surprisingly, they were confused in their lifetimes, by
the local laundry.
- The two unrelated families got to meet each other as the
laundry company mixed up the delivery so the Shaws of Synge Street got
the sheets of the Shaws of Harrington Street
- The Home
Government Association was launched by Isaac Butt on
September 1, 1870.
- Besides Butt, the principal persons involved in the Home
Government Association, all of them Irish Protestants, were Shaw, soon
to be tutor to the Myles brothers; Major
Laurence Knox, founder of The Irish Times
and E. R. King Harman, from a leading landlord family.
- By November 1873, there had been behind-the-scenes contacts
between Fenian sympathisers, the Catholic Church and the Home
- Following a meeting called for by Dr. Keane, the Catholic
bishop of Cloyne, and held in Dublin, there emerged a new body to
replace the old Home Government Association.
- This new organisation, which enjoyed Fenian and Catholic
support, was the Home Rule League
- Both Myles brothers shared sporting skills and interests
(rowing, sailing, swimming, rugby, boxing, shot put, etc.)
- In 1874, the winning crew at Castleconnell regatta
in the junior under~19 event comprised G. Browne, W. B. Browning, Bruce
Murray and Thomas Myles.
- Thomas's medical degrees conferred 1880 and 1881
- resident surgeon in Dr. Steevens's Hospital from 1881 to
1884; later associated with Jervis Street and Richmond hospitals
- On Saturday, May 6, 1882, Dr. Thomas Myles, just turned 25
years of age, was summoned from Dr. Steevens's Hospital to the Phoenix
Park to attend to the newly-sworn in Chief Secretary for Ireland, Lord
Frederick Cavendish, and his Permanent Undersecretary, Thomas Henry
Burke, who had been stabbed in broad daylight by the Invincibles.
- Myles was one of six doctors who performed the post mortems
- in the present U.S. Ambassador's Residence.
- A new organisation, the Irish Protestant Home Rule
Association, was founded on May 21, 1886, in the Castle Restaurant in
Belfast's Donegall Place.
- On June 23, 1886, Dr. Myles was involved in the noisy
inaugural meeting of the Dublin branch of the Irish Protestant Home
Rule Association, held in the Central Hall, Westmoreland street.
- On April 21, 1888, at St. Peter's Church in Dublin, he
married Frances Elizabeth (Fanny) Ayres, daughter of a deceased
English-born clergyman and landowner, Rev. George Ayres (1825-1881) [Certificate].
- Lady Myles's greatgrandmothers included a Sarah Hely of
King's County mentioned
in the Marriage Licence Bonds of the Diocese of Killaloe for 1777
- Barack Obama's GGGGGGgrandmothers included a Sarah Hely of
King's County mentioned
in the Marriage Licence Bonds of the Diocese of Killaloe for 1761
- first residence 30
- M.D. conferred later in 1888
- Professor of Pathology, RCSI, 1889-97
- By 1899, moved to 33
- In 1899, Dr. Thomas Myles was elected to hold the office of
President of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland for a three-year
- libel action and injunction against his fellow candidate
Fitzgibbon who claimed that Myles's association with the nationalist
United Irish League (U.I.L.) would 'associate the college with the
promoters of anarchy and discord.'
- Honorary Freeman of the City of Limerick in 1900, during
the three-year Mayoralty of John Daly, on account of his medical
achievements. The others so honoured under Daly were Thomas J. Clarke
(soon to marry Daly's niece), James F. Egan and Maude Gonne.
- Along with Vincent Nash, the High Sheriff of Limerick,
Thomas Myles was one of two Limerick men awarded knighthoods (Kt. Bach
(1902)) in King Edward VII's coronation honours list, announced on June
- After the gun-running, Sir Thomas Myles (like his older
brother Jack) joined the Royal Army Medical Corps.
- named on a plaque
listing members of the Limerick Protestant Young Mens' Association who
took part in the Great War, 1914-1918 'For King and Country'
- on duty in Dublin at Easter 1916; briefly taken prisoner
according to Witness Statement by James Clarke, who once brought Austin
Stack to him for treatment for a football injury
- did not allow any of the wounded to fall into British
hands, except one
- in 1917, gave medical evidence at the inquest on Thomas
Ashe, according to Witness Statement by Kevin O'Shiel
- After Matt Brady (father of Ruairí
Ó Brádaigh) was shot and wounded in Longford on April 29,
1919, he was transferred to the Richmond Hospital, where according to
Seán MacEoin's Witness Statement:
Dr. Michael Burke and Sir Thomas Myles took care
of him till the Truce, many times locking him into presses and other
places of concealment when the place was being searched by Black and
Tans and other British forces.
- signed a memorial to the Prime Minister, published in The
Times on May 12, 1921, containing a new peace proposal
- By 1932, moved to 32
- continued to pursue his professional duties and met the
demands made upon his services until he was in his mid-seventies
- died in the Richmond Hospital, July 14, 1937
- buried at Dean's Grange
with Lady Myles
- Only the Irish Press obituary mentioned
his gun-running exploits: “No One More Nationalist”: How Sir Thomas
Myles Risked His Position For The Cause
- For probate purposes, his seventy-ton ketch Sheila
was worth more than his home at 32 Leeson Park; a neighbouring house
(no.26) sold for €6.5 million in 2007.
On the beach at Kilcoole, a bronze plaque on a granite boulder
visitor of the events that took place there in 1914. Sir Thomas Myles
is named on
None of the six Limerick gunrunners produced any offspring.
Four of the six were members of the Church of Ireland.
Mount Trenchard Memorial Committee
- John Cussen (Newcastlewest, chairman)
- Tom Toomey (Castletroy, secretary)
- John Curtin (Ballyhahill)
- Seán Diffley (Foynes)
- Tim Donovan (Rathkeale)
- Tom Donovan (Clarina)
- Liam Dundon (Foynes)
- Patricia Haselbeck (Lisnagry)
- Seán Liston (Knockaderry)
- Denis Nolan (Ballyhahill)
- Seán Nolan (Ballyhahill)
- Pádraig Ó Ruairc (Newcastlewest)
- Seamas O'Sullivan (Broadford)
- Paddy Waldron (Killaloe)
Unveiling of monument took place at 2p.m. Sunday 21