Sunday 23 October 2016

Plane sailing: Boeing 767 on glam final journey up the River Shannon

Jet to form centrepiece of ‘quirky’ campsite Newsdesk and Patrick Flynn

Published 06/05/2016 | 02:30

The Boeing 767 is seen atop a barge as it makes its journey up the Shannon Estuary. Photo: Fusionshooters
The Boeing 767 is seen atop a barge as it makes its journey up the Shannon Estuary. Photo: Fusionshooters
David McGowan opens champagne before the barge leaves. Photo: Alan Place/fusionshooters

A decommissioned Boeing 767 became one of the most unique cargo shipments ever to sail on Irish waters as it embarked on a 36-hour journey by sea from Shannon Airport to Co Sligo.

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Sligo entrepreneur, David McGowan, spent thousands moving the 159-foot-long aircraft, which weighs 50 tonnes, to his 'Quirky Nights Glamping Village' in the seaside town of Enniscrone.

The Boeing 767-216(ER) jet was previously flown by the now defunct Transaero, which was Russia's second largest airline, and was purchased by Mr McGowan last year.

Mr McGowan expects to be able to 'beach' the barge in Sligo on Saturday morning where, he said: "There will now be a part of Clare in Enniscrone, Co Sligo."

The jet will form the centrepiece of McGowan's glamorous camping (glamping) village that will also feature train carriages, boats and London black cabs.

All of the trains, planes and automobiles will be refitted to offer luxury accommodation to the 'glampers'.

Mr McGowan, an undertaker by profession, has been planning and coordinating the transportation of the jet for the past year.

It was a mammoth task, with Mr McGowan enlisting the help of Shannon Airport employees.

The first stage of the operation involved removing the aircraft's wings and loading it onto a truck.

The second phase - which began at dawn yesterday - saw a 750-tonne crane hoist the aircraft onto a waiting barge on the Shannon Estuary.

"We hope to reach the bay in Enniscrone at 3.00am tomorrow," Mr McGowan said.

"Then we will beach the barge and begin the job of transporting the jet to its final home."

Hundreds of social media users along the west coast of Ireland were bemused to spot a 159ft long Boeing 767 sail by yesterday on its voyage from Shannon to Enniscrone.

Hundreds of images were shared on Facebook yesterday, as locals along the west coast spotted the Transaero plane at various points on its way to Enniscrone, and were curious to why it was being towed.

“That moment when an aeroplane passes by.... getting towed,” wrote Ellen Butler from Kerry.

“When you look out your front window and see a PLANE travelling along the water,” wrote Sorcha DeBrun.

“The excitement around the place is something else,” wrote Gary Egan.

Ciara McMahon Flavin: “This is definitely something we won’t see again.”

Mr McGowan thanked staff at Shannon Airport for their support. However, he was disappointed to discover he was unable to follow the barge in a tug boat.

"It has really ruined the day for us," he said.

It's understood Mr McGowan and a camera crew were prevented from travelling because they didn't have the necessary paperwork.

Irish Independent

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