The story of the 1914 Ulster gunrunning has all the elements of one of the greatest movies never made, according to the author of a new book on the dramatic events of a century ago.
Former Larne Times journalist Dr David Hume told the launch of his book, Union Cruiser, that the events of the unionist gunrunning of April 1914 had drama, suspense, courage, action and outstanding visual images.
He said that films had been made of other periods in Irish history, including surrounding the War of Independence in the south of Ireland and about Michael Collins, but that one of the most dramatic in relation to Ulster had been ignored.
The author outlined the story of the gunrunning, including the role played by five vessels in the events of April 1914 and detailed the suspense surrounding the delivery of the cargo of rifles and ammunition to arm the Ulster Volunteers.
Among the outstanding images which had been relayed to him was of a six car convoy which made its way into Monaghan with rifles, preceded by outriders, he said, while eyewitness accounts included those of farmers from rural Magheramorne making their way into Larne with their horses and carts and returning with rifles.
Large convoys of vehicles also made their way into the town that night, with around half of the registered cars in Northern Ireland being used in the operation.
“The gunrunning must be seen in the context of the fears of a minority population that it would be extirpated through one means or another in a Home Rule Ireland. Unionists in Ireland believed that Home Rule would be an economic, political, social and cultural disaster,” he said.
Dr Hume, also the Director of Services of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, added: “This story for me is one of the outstanding dramas of Ulster’s history.”
The book launch took place at Magheramorne Old Orange Hall, one of the locations where guns landed at Larne Harbour were concealed a century ago.
‘Union Cruiser: Ulster and the gunrunning of 1914’, published by the Educational Affairs Committee of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, is available for £10 (plus £2.25 P&P) and can be purchased by contacting Orange Order headquarters on 028 9070 1122 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.