Loop Head Eire Sign

Eire sign ,Loop Head
ActiveMe Heritage Services, “Loop Head,” Wild Atlantic Way Heritage Trails, accessed August 5, 2021, https://wildatlanticway.omeka.net/items/show/17.
Loop Head Eire Sign

There is a restored EIRE sign located at Loop Head.  It was excavated and restored in 2011 when it was rediscovered by Michael Kennedy and locals helped remove the the grass.It was in perfect condition. It was whitewashed as it had been originally.

This EIRE sign was constructed in 1943. During World War 2, there were 85 EIRE signs placed along the western Irish seaboard so that American and German pilots knew that there was passing over neutral territory. At the bequest of the Americans each sign was also given a number so that the pilots might know where exactly they were, an early GPS system. Loop Head is number 45. The EIRE sign at Loop Head was built on commonage land and unlike most of the others signs, was not dug up after the war

When USA entered the war in 1942 there was a huge increase in the number of planes flying across the Atlantic. At that time a plane could barely get across and had to take off from Gander Airport in Newfoundland and just about made it to Ireland. There were quite a few crash landings in Ireland because the pilots were inexperienced and as there was no radar or GPS they were never quite sure where they were. Gray, the American Ambassador was furious when the Irish authorities told him that if a plane was on active duty and it landed in this country the plane would be impounded and the pilot interned. He suggested some form of markings so the US pilots would know where they were. The authorities in Ireland decided to erect EIRE signs beside each Look Out Post and get the men to build them. They were 12m x 6m flat stones laid on the ground to form the word EIRE with a border around it to highlight it. This was a recognition system which was cheap and effective. Later the number of the Look Out Post was added to the sign and they became a navigational aid so the pilots knew precisely where they were.

 

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