Balloonist deflated by high winds blow to historic flight

Claire Murphy

Windy weather foiled attempts to re-enact Ireland's first hot-air balloon flight in Ranelagh.

Richard Crosbie departed from Ranelagh Gardens in his "Grand Air Balloon" 225 years ago.

It drew the biggest crowd in Ireland at the time as over 20,000 paying visitors came to the gardens and the organisers even had to put a traffic plan in place for horse-drawn carriages.

Dubbed Ireland's Balloon Man, Crosbie had aimed to cross the Irish Sea on January 19, 1785 but the flight was aborted about an hour after take off due to poor light and the pilot was forced to land in Clontarf.

Foggy and windy weather hampered attempts to try another lift off to mark the anniversary this weekend, after a first attempt was called off last weekend. Although light and variable winds were predicted by Met Eireann, they picked up considerably and balloonist Tom McCormack and his team decided to err on the side of caution.

The commemoration of the event was organised by Ranelagh Arts Festival, headed by Terry Connaughton, which took months of preparation and needed permission from the Aviation Authority. "Dublin City Council Parks Department moved heaven and earth for us," Mr Connaughton said. "There were a number of trees that had to be moved to make enough space for the balloon."

The first flight was significant because it was just two years after the Montgolfier brothers in France made history with their first manned flight in a hot-air balloon.