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Arms Landings
22.

The Struggle For Freedom In West Waterford

22. Arms Landings
Arms Landings "Anita"
You will have noticed in many of the engagements with the enemy, the Volunteers had to withdraw due to lack of ammunition, or weapons. At all times they sought to improve their supplies by raiding Barracks, holding up and disarming patrols and any other method by which they could obtain a rifle or a few rounds of ammunition. General Head Quarters were endeavouring to improve arms and ammunitions, but often their plans were upset by political changes in European countries where they were hoping to get supplies. For instance in Genoa before Christmas 1920, 60 tons of arms and munitions were purchased for this country, but the deal fell through due to a change in the political situation there. Efforts were then concentrated on Germany, our old alloy, and everything was in readiness for a major arms landing on the Waterford Coast, early in 1921.

Whether due to the British Intelligence System, or some other spies, the boat called the "Anita" loaded with arms and ammunition was [discovered] and confiscated by the [allies]. Reparations Committee, and [our] G.H.Q. agent, Captain Charlie McGuinness was arrested. He was charged before a court, but luckily through the offices of some Germans, who [naturally] were not in love with England, influence was brought to bear, and the Judge left McGuinness off with a very small fine. This landing was to take place on April, 1921. The incident had the effect of drawing the attention of some friendly Germans to our quest for arms, and they proceeded to try to secure another boat, and get more arms and ammunition. This was not an easy matter, because the Allies Reparation Commission, were closing down and smashing all munition factories in Germany. Still there were some secret caches of arms in the country, and it was hoped to get at some of these, but by this time the Truce had come to Ireland, on 11th July 1921. However, the preparations still went on for an arms landing on the Waterford Coast. Great secrecy had to be observed about our plans because the British Navy were constantly on the alert for any attempt at landing arms.

Cheekpoint "Frieda"
Captain McGuinness in a light tug boat called the "Frieda" with a German crew on board succeeded in dodging the Navy, and land his cargo of arms which consisted of Mauser Rifles, and Peter the Painter, at Cheekpoint, in Waterford Harbour, and from there they were transported to the Comeraghs where arrangements had been made to store them. They were later transferred to Midland and Northern areas selected by G.H.Q.

The "Frieda" was sold by Liam Mellows and Captain McGuinness to a Captain Collins of Cork, who used her for ferrying coal. With the money obtained in this transaction, McGuinness returned to Germany and purchased the schooner "Hannah" which had an auxiliary motor engine. She was loaded with arms and ammunition, and carried barrels of cement, as ballast, and a decoy cargo. Ballinagoul was the chosen spot for the landing. Scouting parties, observation posts, and all detailed preparations were again made. Reception Boats, landing parties, transport lorries, were organised. [Different languages on the pier – Irish, English, German, Danish]. Strict secrecy was observed to counteract the vigilance of the British Navy, but the "Hannah" arrived on schedule, and met by the fishing boats, and berthed at Ballingoul. The cargo was unloaded in record time and transferred to the waiting lorries.

Dick Barrett (who was executed on 8th December 1922) was on the pier as representative of 1st Southern Division, and saw that everything went according to plan. The whole job was completed without a hitch in a few hours, and the largest single shipment of arms and ammunition ever to reach the Irish Republican Army was efficiently completed. Those arms were later transferred to Birr, Co. Offaly, where they were taken over by General Head Quarters.

Author: Domnall O'Faoláin

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