The Aud Arrives at Banna Strand, Co. Kerry, From Germany With 20,000 Rifles for Use of the Volunteers in the Easter Uprising

  • April 21, 1912

Banna Strand is associated with Roger Casement who was captured on April 21, 1916, while attempting to land arms for Irish Republicans from the German vessel the Aud. Banana Strand is an Atlanic ocean beach extending from Ballyheigue in the North to Barrow Harbour at its southern edge, located in County Kerry.

Roger David Casement (1 September 1864 – 3 August 1916) was a British diplomat by profession and a poet, Irish revolutionary and nationalist by inclination. He is famous for his activities against abuses of the colonial system in Africa and Peru, but more well known for his dealings with Germany prior to Irelands Easter Rising in 1916.

Casement resigned from colonial service in 1912. The following year, he joined the Irish Volunteers, and became a close friend of the organisations chief of staff Eoin MacNeill. When the First World War broke out in 1914, he attempted to secure German aid for Irish independence, sailing for Germany via America. He viewed himself as a self-appointed ambassador of the Irish nation. While the journey was his idea, he managed to persuade the exiled Irish nationalists in the Clan na Gael to finance the expedition. Many members of the Clan na Gael never trusted him completely, as he was not a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and held views considered by many to be too moderate. Casement drafted a treaty with Germany, which stated that countrys support for an independent Ireland. Most of his time in Germany, however, was spent in an attempt to recruit an Irish Brigade consisting of Irish prisoners-of-war in the prison camp of Limburg an der Lahn, who would be trained to fight against England. The effort proved unsuccessful, and was abandoned after much time and money was wasted. The Germans, who were sceptical of Casement but nonetheless aware of the military advantage they could gain from an uprising in Ireland, offered the Irish 20,000 guns, 10 machine guns and accompanying ammunition, a fraction of the amount of weaponry Casement had hoped for.

Casement did not learn about the Easter Rising until after the plan was fully developed. The IRB purposely kept him in the dark, and even tried to replace him. Casement may never have learned that it was not the Volunteers who were planning the rising, but IRB members such as Patrick Pearse and Tom Clarke who were pulling the strings behind the scenes.

The German weapons never reached Ireland. The ship in which they were travelling, a German cargo vessel, the Libau, was intercepted, even though it had been thoroughly disguised as a Norwegian vessel, Aud Norge. All the crew were German sailors, but their clothes and effects, even the charts and books on the bridge, were all Norwegian. The British, however, had intercepted German communications and knew the true identity and exact destination of the Aud. After it was intercepted, the ships captain scuttled the ship.

Casement left Germany in a submarine, the U-19, shortly after the Aud sailed. Believing that the Germans were toying with him from the start, and purposely providing inadequate aid that would doom a rising to failure, he decided he had to reach Ireland before the shipment of arms, and convince Eoin MacNeill (who he believed was still in control) to cancel the rising.


Banna Strand in County Kerry
Banna Strand in County Kerry

In the early hours of 21 April 1916, two days before the rising was scheduled to begin, Casement was put ashore at Banna Strand in County Kerry. Too weak to travel (he was ill), he was discovered and subsequently arrested on charges of treason, sabotage and espionage against the Crown. Following a highly publicized trial, he was stripped of his knighthood. After an unsuccessful appeal against the death sentence, he was hanged at Pentonville Prison in London on 3 August 1916, at the age of 51.

He was received into the Roman Catholic Church a few minutes before he was hanged, although his mother had already had him baptized as a child- a fact of which he was evidently unaware due to her death when he was a baby and the fact that he was raised by his Protestant fathers family. So he was baptized twice, but never had First Communion or confirmation.

Among the people who pleaded for clemency for him were Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who had participated in the Congo campaign and George Bernard Shaw. Edmund Dene Morel couldnt visit him in jail, being under attack for his pacifist position. On the other hand Joseph Conrad didnt forgive him for what he saw as his treachery toward Britain.