hen, on Good Friday 1916, Sir Roger Casement and two comrades arrived at Banna Strand carrying arms to aid the struggle for independence, only one man escaped – Kilcoole-born hero Captain Robert Monteith.
And this great man’s life will be celebrated with a special paper presented by his grandson, Charles Cushing, at Druids Glen Club House at 7.30pm on Thursday, March 24th. Monteith was born on the Woodstock estate, where Druids Glen is now situated. But first, a little history…
It was Monteith’s years serving in the British Army that made him invaluable to the Irish Volunteers, his decision to join being sparked by scenes of what he regarded as savagery by the Dublin Metropolitan Police and the Royal Irish Constabulary during a peaceful labour movement in the capital. The fact that his own 14-year-old daughter, Florence [pictured right on April 8th, 1966 at the unveiling of the Banna Strand tribute to her father and that Good Friday mission], returned home one afternoon with a blood-soaked head after being clubbed by a policeman on North Earl Street only sparked this proud military man.
It didn’t take long for Monteith to become Captain of A Company, with his unit the first to parade through the streets of Dublin. And when World War 1 broke out, and the British Army offered the much-decorated Monteith a series of high-ranking positions to come out of retirement, his refusal saw him mysteriously losing his Ordnance Depot job, followed by, twelve hours later, a deportation order in accordance with the Defence of the Realm. After consulting with James Connolly and others, Monteith moved to Limerick, where he continued his role of drill instructor with the Volunteers.
From there, a plot was hatched for Monteith to train Irish POWs in Berlin, a deliberately misleading correspondence with his wife, Mollie, in Dublin faking a growing disinterest in the Volunteers and a desire to move to the US. The deception worked, and Monteith found himself on the SS New York from Liverpool on September 9th, 1915, heading to Berlin and the Irish Brigade on his return journey less than one month later.
Which would turn out to be an adventure all to itself, with Monteith evading passport control with a stumbling drunk act, and avoiding capture at a Copenhagen hotel after a chance encounter at the local police station gave him enough warning to flee.
Once in Germany, 56 POWs were recruited, and then word came through of an urgent need for arms, as a dispatch came through for Monteith at the War Office in Berlin – it was from Irish Revolutionary Headquarters. The Rising would begin on Easter Sunday, 23rd April 1916…
Flying in from New York especially for the occasion, Charles Cushing paid tribute to his grandfather at Druids Glen – find out more here.
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