The Howth Gunrunning- July 1914

Who was Erskine Childers?


Robert Erskine Childers DSC ( 1870 – 24 1922) was the son of an English scholar and Anglo-Irish mother. He   smuggled guns from Germany  to Ireland to be used in the 1916 Rising in his  yacht


Asgard, a wedding present from his father-in-law. 

on asgard


One member of his crew was MARY ELLEN SPRING RICE, only daughter of Thomas, second Baron Monteagle of Mount Brandon, Mount Trenchard, Foynes, Co Limerick. She was a close friend of the Childers family, a strong supporter of Home Rule and later of Sinn Féin. She died on 1 December 1924, aged 44, and  was given a guard of honour  at her funeral by the local IRA, the Gaelic League, and  trade unionists.

What else was Erskine Childers famous for?

riddle of the sands

He wrote The Riddle of the Sands  (1903) one of the 1st examples of the espionage   novel . It “established a formula that included a mass of verifiable detail, which gave authenticity to the story

It was one of the early invasion of britain  novels  “… a story with a purpose

written from “a patriot’s natural sense of duty”, which predicted war with Germany and called for British preparedness

It had a political impact as it  persuaded public opinionin Britain at the time  to fund vital measures against the German naval threat,

Childers was secretary-general of the Irish delegation that negotiated the Anglo-Irish Treaty with the British government but opposed  the final draft of the agreement. Childers broke with Michael Collins   over the treaty.  He backed the IRA nationalists who fought the Irish Free State.

How did he die?

childers death

He was executed by the authorities of the Irish Free State during the Irish Civil War


After Collins’s assassination, emergency laws promulgated the death sentence for anyone caught armed without authorization. Childers  was arrested in early November with a small sidearm — a gift Michael Collins had given him, back when they were on the same side. He was convicted by the military court, sentenced to death on 20 November and executed on 24 November by firing squad  in Dublin

childers execution

The night before his execution, Childers summoned his 16-year-old son to prison and extracted a promise that the boy would find everyone who signed his death warrant … and shake their hands

His son became the 4th President of Ireland, Erskine Hamilton Childers.


Could NI learn and implement forgiveness ?


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