Saturday 20 July 2019

WATCH: Ever wonder what those 'EIRE' markers on the Irish coast are for?

Pól Ó Conghaile & Seán Molloy

Ever walked along the Irish coast, and spotted a rock formation arranged to spell the word 'EIRE'?

Today, we take navigational aids like GPS for granted. During World War II, however, technology wasn't quite so advanced.

As war raged across Europe, large makeshift markers with the word 'EIRE' were built out along the coastline and painted white - both to orient Allied pilots, and to alert German aircraft.

The markers were erected close to coastal Look Out Posts (LOPs) - whose identifying numbers were later added. Over 80 are believed to have been constructed (see for more in-depth detail).

View from inside a Coastal Watch Station ('LOP') by Downpatrick Head, Co. Mayo. Photo: Pól Ó Cnghaile
View from inside a Coastal Watch Station ('LOP') by Downpatrick Head, Co. Mayo. Photo: Pól Ó Cnghaile

Today, many of the markers have become overgrown, or been destroyed - but some survive, like this example near Keem Bay on Achill Island.

The 'EIRE 59' marker was at risk of being lost, as time and the elements took their toll, but a group of locals including Brian McNamara, John Patten, Patrick McNamara and Brian McNeill recently began work on its restoration.

After clearing overgrown vegetation and painting the rocks white, the marker has been fully restored to what a pilot may have seen in the 1940s... as this stunning footage (top) from Seán Molloy of Achill Tourism demonstrates.

A similar project was undertaken by a local community group to restore the 'EIRE 80' marker at Malin Head, Co. Donegal, in recent years.

The Achill men are part of the “Dooagh Day” group.

Dooagh Day is the village’s annual festival, which takes place this year from July 13 to 15. It and aims to foster community spirit, revive old traditions and improve the village for both residents and visitors alike.

See for more info.

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