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Shortly before noon on a hot, blue-skied Sunday morning in July 1914, a white sail floated out from behind Lambay Island and began to nonchalantly make its way towards the small port of Howth, writes historian Turtle Bunbury.

Asgard was on the home straight from one of the most daring gunrunning missions in modern history.

At the helm was Erskine Childers, the best-selling spy novelist of the day.

Over the previous three weeks, he had skippered the two-masted yacht out to meet a German tugboat in the North Sea from which he received a cargo of 900 Mauser rifles and 29,000 rounds of ammunition.

The weapons were destined for the hands of the Irish Volunteers who had pledged to defend Home Rule for Ireland.

The importance of this iconic vessel’s role in shaping Irish history is considerable. Its cargo was to play a pivotal role in arming the rebels of 1916.

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