Stories From The Rising: The Aud Sets Sail For Ireland

Continuing their series of short stories in the run-up to the Centenary, the Thomas Clarke Society Dungannon tells of the Aud-Norge as it sets sail for Ireland.

At the start of April 1916, just 24 days before the Rising, Joseph Plunkett went to Germany to finalise plans for 20,000 captured Russian rifles, munitions and explosives to be landed at Fenit.

It was Plunkett who, back in August 1914, had first travelled to Germany to seek military aid for the IRB. In fact it was him, John Devoy and Thomas Clarke who formed the axis which over the past year and a half were responsible for planning and organising this shipment of arms – not Rodger Casement as many believe.

Shortly after Plunkett’s return, Captain Karl Spindler was given a British steamer called ‘Castro’ at Hamburg. He had his crew change its name to ‘Libau’, the name of a City in Latvia on the coastline of the Baltic Sea. He done this so Russian spies, who may have had an interest in his movements, would assume this was their destination when in fact it was Ireland.

Under darkness the crew then painted the name ‘Aud-Norge’ and hoisted the Norwegian Flag. The Aud would sail via Iceland then down the west coast of Ireland to Tralee, in an effort to avoid British warships.

Clan na Gael had sent $100,000 to Ireland to fund the Rising and now, with just three weeks to go, they sent another $25,000, exhausting the Clan’s funds.

At the start of April, Thomas Clarke asked Kathleen to make a list of sixteen members of Cumann na mBan for dispatch work. Later, Kitty O’Doherty recalled that Tom said to her, ‘you should be ready to go to any port at a moment’s notice’.

Back in Dungannon, Billy Kelly and other members of the IRB prepared for the anticipated Rising but did not yet know the date. Billy had just celebrated his 55th birthday and, like Tom, it fell in March. Billy though was three years younger.

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