Mov­ing Aud an­chor to Spike ‘will hurt Cobh tourism’

Irish Examiner - - News - Sean O’Rior­dan

A row has bro­ken out over where an an­chor from a scut­tled gun-run­ning ship should be dis­played.

The an­chor of the Aud, a ship used by the Ger­mans to smug­gle guns to the IRA dur­ing the First World War, is on dis­play at the Queen­stown Her­itage Cen­tre in Cobh.

How­ever, a re­quest has been made to have it moved to Spike Is­land, where the 23-strong Ger­man crew were im­pris­oned af­ter their cap­ture.

A spe­cial ex­hi­bi­tion was re­cently opened on the is­land ded­i­cated to the story of the Aud.

The ship was scut­tled by cap­tain Karl Spindler at the en­trance to Cork Har­bour in 1916 as it was es­corted into Cobh by Bri­tish war­ships.

It was laden with an es­ti­mated 20,000 ri­fles, 1,000,000 rounds of am­mu­ni­tion, 10 ma­chine guns, and ex­plo­sives.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion which runs Spike Is­land wants to add the an­chor to the ex­hi­bi­tion.

How­ever, Cobh/Glan­mire mu­nic­i­pal district coun­cil­lors are to­tally op­posed to the move.

De­spite be­ing told by coun­cil of­fi­cials that the board of the her­itage cen­tre had no prob­lem hand­ing it over to Spike Is­land, Sinn Féin coun­cil­lor Kieran McCarthy said he did not want to see that hap­pen.

Mr McCarthy, who runs free tours of Cobh’s War of In­de­pen­dence past, said peo­ple could view the an­chor free of charge at the her­itage cen­tre, but would have to pay to see it on Spike Is­land.

“There was a long bat­tle to get the an­chor to Cobh where it’s on view free of charge,” he said. “Putting it out on the is­land will be detri­men­tal.”

Mr McCarthy said it was much eas­ier to ac­cess the an­chor at the her­itage cen­tre, es­pe­cially for the tens of thou­sands of cruise line pas­sen­gers who dis­em­bark from ships which dock at the nearby deep­wa­ter quay.

“Cobh is a her­itage town and I think this coun­cil should have as much of this her­itage avail­able to the peo­ple of the town,” said In­de­pen­dent coun­cil­lor t Diar­maid Ó’Cadhla said.

Labour coun­cil­lor Cathal Ras­mussen also agreed it should be kept where it is.

Coun­cil­lors were told by their of­fi­cials that the fi­nal say would prob­a­bly rest with the Na­tional Mu­seum, which ac­tu­ally al­lowed the an­chor to be dis­played in Cobh.

Of­fi­cials said the coun­cil’s her­itage of­fi­cer, Conor Nel­li­gan, is to meet with Na­tional Mu­seum rep­re­sen­ta­tives next month to dis­cuss the is­sue.

On hear­ing this, Mr McCarthy said Mr Nel­li­gan should be in­formed of the view of the Cobh/Glan­mire mu­nic­i­pal district coun­cil­lors and be asked to pass it on to the Na­tional Mu­seum.

Mr McCarthy said he would read the li­cence which al­lowed it to be dis­played in Cobh and main­tained it stated no charge would be im­posed to see it.

He said that, if nec­es­sary, he would put down a for­mal mo­tion at full county coun­cil level to seek sup­port from other coun­cil­lors for the views be­ing ex­pressed by those rep­re­sent­ing the Cobh/Glan­mire mu­nic­i­pal district.

Af­ter some de­bate, coun­cil­lors agreed with Mr Ras­mussen’s pro­posal to write to the Na­tional Mu­seum in­form­ing it of their views.

“If they come back with a neg­a­tive re­sponse then we could seek the back­ing of full coun­cil to leave it where it is,” he said.

Pic­ture: Jim Coughlan

One of the Aud’s an­chors at the Queen­stown Her­itage Cen­tre, Cobh, last year. Hen­drick Ver­wey, Cobh Tourism, with Eoin McGarry, one of the divers who re­cov­ered the an­chor.

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