#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 7°C Saturday 5 December 2020
Advertisement

Another lost World War II ÉIRE sign has been discovered at Wexford’s Hook Head

A local group discovered the image, after searching based on an old aerial photo.

ANOTHER LOST WORLD War II Éire sign has been discovered – this time on Hook Head in Wexford.

The discovery was made last Sunday by a group of folklorists, archaeologists and historians along Hook Peninsula in search of the sign, Éire No 16.

The previous weekend they discovered the first of Wexford’s Éire signs at Cahore Point, Éire No 11, which was lost shortly after WWII.

There are seven signs in total and local historian Michael Fortune, from Kilmuckridge, is determined to find the remaining five.

The group had only an old aerial photo which they used to find the Hook Head sign, given to them by the Irish Air Corps.

Within minutes the location was identified, and two small test holes revealed the É from the Éire sign made from cut stone, and some with whitewash on them.

Fortune said: “This is great news for Wexford as this is second of the seven uncovered in a few days. We are informing relevant authorities of exact location, size etc and all we can do now, is encourage locals to do the rest.

“Some of the sign has been covered by a car track over the years and the nearby lookout post was knocked down – sadly some of us don’t realise the value of recent history until it’s too late.

“Our next task will bring us up to North Wexford to find Éire No 10 at the fantastic Kilmichael Point which still has the lookout post surviving.

“We all work during the week so we can only head out on weekend excursions. Last August, I decided for the craic and with the help of a Polish man and some others from the county to go looking for the Cahore sign and thankfully we found it a couple of weekends ago. They are just brilliant finds.

“We know that one of the signs has been washed away due to coastal erosion.”.

download (11) Source: Niall Carroll/Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council

Restoration

Fortune is hoping that Wexford County Council, local Tidy Town committees and other historical groups will get involved and help them restore the signs.

“They are part of our history and shouldn’t be forgotten about. So many people are not aware these signs existed,” he said.

Over a two-year period two other ‘Éire’ signs along the Dublin and Wicklow coastlines in Dalkey and Bray.

A small lookout post hut – where soldiers and volunteers recorded all air and sea movements during 1939-45 in a day book – were erected according to military archives at Cathal Brugha Barracks in Dublin.

There are 83 such lookouts and signs placed roughly every 10 miles along Ireland’s coast. These were critical to our neutral state during the war, when invasion was a real possibility.

Somewhere near each post was an enormous white “EIRE” in the landscape, built by the Irish Army in 1943-44 to warn “belligerent aircraft” this was Ireland, and neutral territory.

Fortune added: “Those working in the lookout posts recorded any activity taking place around the sea. I saw one book recently which recorded warplanes open fire on one another, with a second detailing planes on their way to Dublin during the War.”

The signs were vital for US aircraft to avoid landing here. If aircraft landed accidentally, they were looked after and escorted to the border. However, German airmen were interned in the Curragh.

Today, many of the Éire signs have been covered by growth but some are visible from the air, including Loop Head and Malin Head.

The Bray Head sign was found in 2018 following a fire on the hill during the summer heatwave.

About the author:

Sarah Slater

Read next:

COMMENTS (28)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel