During World War Two, 83 ‘Éire’ signs were installed by the Irish Government along the coast of Ireland to let fighter pilots know they were flying over neutral territory.
Restoration work has begun to make an ‘Éire’ sign from WWII visible to passengers flying into Dublin Airport.
The sign installed on Howth Head in County Dublin almost 80 years ago was one of 83 put in place by the Irish Government to warn Second World War fighter pilots not to drop bombs as they were flying over neutral land.
Today, the sign will provide a historic welcome to passengers flying into Dublin Airport.
Welcome to Ireland – the only ‘Eire’ sign visible to passengers
The sign measures 6 metres (20 ft) by 12 metres (40 ft) and will be the only ‘Eire’ sign visible to passengers flying into Dublin Airport once restoration work is completed at the end of the summer.
According to Howth-based historian Philip O’Connor, the signs are made up of stones painted in limewash and were installed along the Irish coast after the deployment of U.S. forces to Europe in January 1942.
Speaking to the Irish Times, O’Connor said, “The Americans were coming into Britain and bringing their planes in for the bombing of Germany, and they had a lot of planes coming this way.
“However, they couldn’t cross Ireland because of neutrality, so they asked could the coastline be delineated because they were losing planes in crashes.”
A reminder of the past – a piece of history
83 ‘Eire’ signs were then to the Irish coastline after the request from American forces.
The Irish Government later added numbers to each of the signs to help American pilots navigate their way around the Emerald Isle.
The ‘Eire’ sign from WWII at Howth Head, which will now be visible to passengers flying into Dublin Airport, for example, was assigned number six to let American pilots know they were flying over Howth.
A lost history – only 30 remain intact
Of the 83 signs installed, however, only 30 remain intact, and just a handful have been restored to their original visible condition.
Following the end of the Second World War, many of the signs became overgrown and abandoned after the end of the war.
O’Connor told the Irish Times, “Some are gone because they were on land used for farming.
“Others are quite inaccessible because they are on headlands – they were put on places pilots would notice them. About 25 have been revealed, but only a handful have been restored.”
History restored – Ireland’s neutral position
The ‘Éire’ sign from WWII to be visible to passengers flying into Dublin Airport is not the only one to have made the headlines in recent years.
A gorse fire on Bray Head in 2018 revealed a lost sign on the side of the cliff, and an Éire-7 sign in Dalkey was restored in 2019.
Following these events, Howth residents lobbied the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to restore the Éire-6 sign in Howth and permission was granted in February for the project to go ahead.