Dublin Airport: Memories take flight as Ireland's gateway celebrates 75 years
From Pope John Paul to T2 and Ryanair to the Beatles, we look at the most memorable moments in Dublin Airport's 75-year history.
Dublin Airport opened for business on Friday, January 19, 1940.
There was no Terminal 2 back then. Heck, there wasn't even a Terminal 1 (as we know it today, at least). A single flight took off that morning, on a grass runway, destined for Liverpool’s Speke Airport.
As the propeller-driven Aer Lingus Lockheed 14 took to the skies, Éamon de Valera was Taoiseach and World War II was in full swing.
That meant that, for five years, the airport itself was "effectively mothballed" - with services limited to Liverpool and occasional flights to Manchester’s Barton Aerodrome.
The first scheduled services to London eventually commenced in November 1945, with connections to other British cities and continental European destinations following before Dublin Airport got its first scheduled transatlantic service to New York, in April 1958.
Dublin Airport, featured on a John Hinde postcard.
Work at Dublin Airport, originally known as Collinstown Airport, began in 1937.
Collinstown had been a base for the British Royal Air Force before the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922, but the old military airfield had fallen into disrepair by the late 1930s.
A new terminal designed by Desmond FitzGerald (brother of Garrett) won several architectural awards for its tiered design, viewing decks and balconies reminiscent of an ocean liner - the building’s form curved deliberately to present a long facade towards taxiing aircraft and a shorter concave to arriving passengers, seeming to embrace them as they arrived at the door.
It was capable of accommodating some 100,000 passengers a year, crowned by the opulent Johnny Opperman's restaurant, and remained the airport's key facility until the early 1970s.
The Old Terminal Building, still in use at Dublin today.
The romance, novelty and exclusivity of flying in the 1950s and 60s is almost impossible to imagine today. This was a time of handwritten tickets, going-away suits and security-free zones; a golden age of air travel immortalised on Dublin Airport’s Pinterest site (pinterest.com/dublinairport).
At the time, Dublin Airport was a destination in its own right, as people travelled out to Collinstown to see the planes and dine at Opperman's. It even ran guided tours.
When Dublin’s first transatlantic flight took off in 1958, Eamon de Valera quoted Charles Lindbergh: “In any development of transatlantic travel, Ireland holds the key.”
In 1963, passenger numbers exceeded one million for the first time, with an increasing number of celebrities passing through its doors. That year, the Beatles arrived to pandemonium.
On September 29th, 1979, the airport came to a standstill for another class of celebrity: Pope John Paul II. Famously, the pope stooped to kiss the airport's runway.
Over its 75 years, the airport has welcomed seven US presidents, celebs ranging from Jimmy Stewart to JFK, and been the scene for numerous sporting homecomings - from Jack's Army in 1990 to Ireland's Grand Slam winning rugby team in 2009.
In that period, Dublin Airport has mushroomed into a sprawling complex capable of processing 30 million passengers a year. A North Terminal was added in the late 1950s, with Terminal 2 coming online in 2010 ("a €600m investment in Ireland's future, as it was described by DAA Chairman David Dilger).
Last year, the airport bounced back from recession to report 21.7 million passengers - up 8pc over 2013.Transatlantic traffic increased by 14pc, as more than 2.1 million people travelled on flights between Dublin and North America in a single year - a record number for the airport.
Dublin Airport is now flying high in the 21st century, with award winning social media accounts, and 100,000 followers on Twitter alone. It continues to grow faster than the European average.
The international gateway of today offers customers direct services to Britain, North America, Continental Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Indeed, 14 new services have already been announced for 2015, including direct flights to Iceland, LA and Ethiopia.
Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport. The facility opened in 2010.
In the 75 years since its first flight, Dublin Airport has carried 435 million passengers. Remarkably, it is the entry point to Ireland for 70pc of the people that visit.
Despite the spaghetti of terminals, runways, access roads and office buildings, however, passengers walking the skybridge between Terminal 1 and Pier D can still steal a glimpse at the past.
Look to your left as you walk towards your flight on this route - you can still see the toothpaste-white façade and surgically curvy architecture of the Old Terminal Building in all it's glory.
Surprisingly, FitzGerald's gem remains a working building, housing DAA offices, the Met Office’s airport presence and some passenger boarding gates – so it’s effectively still in use as a terminal.
"Dublin Airport was established to connect Ireland with the world and 75 years on it is still fulfilling that goal," says Airport managing director Vincent Harrison.
To mark its 75th birthday, Dublin Airport will have musical entertainment from the 1940s and 1950s in both terminals today. An exhibition charting the airport’s 75 years has also been installed in Terminal 1 and will be open to the public throughout the year. Follow #DUB2015 for updates.