Life Home & Garden

Tuesday 28 June 2016

Funeral director buys Boeing 767 to create glamping village in Sligo - but how will he move it from Shannon Airport?

Published 01/03/2016 | 10:50

David is planning to turn many former modes of transport into accomodation in his glamping village
David is planning to turn many former modes of transport into accomodation in his glamping village

An Irish entrepreneur has purchased a decommissioned Russian airplane, which he hopes to turn into a tourist hotspot in the back garden of his home in Sligo.

Funeral Director David McGowan is making plans to move the massive Boeing 767 along the Wild Atlantic Way to his home in Enniscrone after purchasing the jet from Shannon airport at a price of €20,000.

The innovative undertaker revealed that he became fascinated by the growing trend of glamping and wanted to create unusual accommodation to boost tourism to his hometown.

Speaking to Anton Savage on Today FM, David said:  “I have a 15 acre site there of marshy field and I was wondering what I could do with it. Whatever I was going to do with it, it had to be to do with tourism because we’re on the Wild Atlantic Way. I looked at different types of accommodation and unusual places to stay. I saw that glamping was a modern type of camping that was spreading throughout Europe.

“I got the idea that I might like a plane. There are so many planes that have been decommissioned that have gone out of service. I rang around the three different airports, Dublin, Cork and Shannon and only Shannon got back to me and said they had one but that it was no good to me. They said it was too big.

“I said ‘You hold that til I get down there’. When I got down there I said ‘Right, I’m thinking of putting this in my back garden’.”

The entrepreneur is now in an unusual position as he is trying to orchestrate the transportation of the airplane, which weighs 70 tonnes and measures 159ft in length, from Shannon to Sligo without breaking it into many pieces.

Despite an detailed 8-month effort to set plans in place to move the jet by road, David had to abandon these plans because he could not get permission from the local authorities.

“The whole process was in place and engineered but we found that there was two bridges in Clare that we just couldn’t get under.

“We were looking about bringing this animal down the road. County Councils wouldn’t let me put a crane on the bridges to lift it over because it would stop the traffic going into Limerick City.

“I would have had to lift 126 ESB wires and 26 traffic lights, and 97 Telecom Wires as well,” he said.

David is now looking to move the plane by Hoverbarge along the coast of Ireland at the next high tide.

“I wasn’t determined to be bet so I turned my attention to the sea.

“The options of going by sea instead of road means I won’t have to cut the plane

“The site is just across the road from the beach in Enniscrone so once we get there it should be okay.

“We have to have a window and we need a high tide to bring it in as far as we can in EnnisCrone. We’re looking at a date between the 21st of March and the 26th. That will be sea dependant. This barge has to come from Liverpool as well remember,” he said.

The funeral director revealed that this project has given him something to be excited about, as his day job means he is always surrounded by death.

“I’m a funeral director and embalmer. I’m surrounded with death every week, you need something to give you a buzz. You need to out and do something unusual,” he said.

The entrepreneur hopes that the plane will boost tourism for Enniscrone and put it back on the map.

“This will create excitement and put Enniscrone Co. Sligo on the map. It’s putting a great buzz into the area.

“It’s brave to start a business in west Sligo. A Boeing 767 has never been sold to an individual like this, or moved along the Atlantic coast of Ireland on a barge and up the beach in Enniscrone and made into bedrooms. I’m keeping 28ft of the cockpit in tact for children to play in.

“Keep an eye out for Quirky Nights Glamping Village,” he said.

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