Moving Aud anchor to Spike ‘will hurt Cobh tourism’
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.
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.