Nestled into a country road in Kingsland, County Roscommon, a research grade observatory boasting two large telescopes is masked by a traditional country cottage.
Eamon Ansbro set up his observatory in the mid 1990s at a time when locals began reporting strange lights and flying objects in the skies.
The nearby town of Boyle has a history of UFO activity. The late Betty Meyler set up the UFO society of Ireland in the sleepy rural town, where the night skies are black and totally free from light pollution. Several UFO sightings have been reported in the area, most famously the crash landing of a supposed flying saucer in 1996 that drew parallels with the infamous Roswell incident.
Eamon’s house-cum-research facility sits just under a mile away from Kingsland National School where I was a pupil in the late 1990’s . I remember the other kids talking about the man who looks for aliens.
Strangely, Ansbro’s house fits fits well within the friendly - albeit slightly insular - community. It’s large telescopes are hidden inside corrugated iron sheds, a row of smaller cameras pointing skyward on the roof of the cottage are the only sign of abnormality.
While it is true that Ansbro has dedicated much of his professional life to a field that many of his neighbours and scientific peers would deem crazy, it is clear upon meeting him that he is far from the tin-foil-hat-wearing loon that springs to mind when one thinks of a 'ufoligist'. He could by described by some as an eccentric, but he is also articulate, calm and confident in his work.
He is also keen to distance himself from other local ‘ufologists’, who - despite having his “utmost respect” - do not follow a “scientific approach” in their quest for first contact with an intelligent extra terrestrial species. Ansbro is not interested in second hand accounts of sightings or indeed any degree of speculation, he is on a quest for definitive proof of extra terrestrial life. His ultimate goal is first contact.
Ansbro is by no means the first man to begin the search for extra terrestrial life. the search for extra terrestrial intelligence agency (SETI) are a well funded society of scientists who work to the same ends as Ansbro. The difference between them lies in their method.
SETI function on the premise that the intelligent civilisations are likely using methods of communication that are extremely advanced, but function in a similar manner to our own i.e. using radio waves, sound waves or radiation. This is a belief that is totally at odds with Ansbro’s who believes that we need to look beyond the laws of physics and science as we know them.
When something or somebody is emphatically dismissed by mainstream science - warning bells start to go off. However, in this case it’s different. It’s different because mainstream science - in this case SETI - haven’t found anything yet. Perhaps then there is method to Ansbro’s madness.
“these civilisations are operating at a completely different level, on completely different systems” he explains.
“I think that there is a sort of telephone directory that we aren’t in, our Solar System is on the outermost arm of the galaxy, I suspect that there are many clusters of civilisations nearer to the centre”.
Contacting civilisations at the centre of the galaxy requires faster than light communications, something that we cannot achieve within the confines of electromagnetism - the theories on which all our systems of communication and travel are based.
Ansbro believes the secret lies in scalar waves – a type of electromagnetic wave that works outside of the laws of physics as we know it. He believes that despite the difficulty of his task, he thinks he is close to a breakthrough.
"I'm confident that we will achieve first contact" he says.
"I think I know how they're doing it now"."
If Ansbro is successful in his mission, he will take his place alongside Einstein, Newton, and Hawking in the history books. Until then his telescopes will remain trained on the skies over Co. Roscommon.