Commemorations held in Galway for first transatlantic flight

Event marks famous 1919 flight of Alcock and Brown from Canada to Connemara

Commemorations have been held in Co Galway to mark the centenary of John Alcock and Arthur Brown’s famous transatlantic flight from Newfoundland to Connemara. Video: Reuters

 

Commemorations are being held in Clifden, Co Galway, this weekend to mark the centenary of John Alcock and Arthur Brown’s famous transatlantic flight from Newfoundland to Connemara.

On June 14th, 1919, the two men made aviation history as the first to fly non-stop across the Atlantic, a nearly 16-hour journey in a Vickers designed biplane.

The pair flew from St John’s in Newfoundland, Canada, and landed at Derrigimlagh Bog, Connemara, Co Galway.

This weekend the coastal town of Clifden is hosting a festival to celebrate 100 years since the historic flight.

Minister of State for the Gaeltacht Seán Kyne laid a wreath at the site of the landing, following a ceremony attended by relatives of the aviators, and representatives from Canada, and the local community.

Tony Alcock, nephew of John Alcock, also laid a wreath at the site of the pair’s famous landing on Irish soil.

The two aviators flew through thick fog, heavy snow and driving rain in an open cockpit with no means to keep warm or communicate, either with each other or the outside world, for the duration of their flight.

Just under 16 hours after they left Canada they caught a glimpse of the Aran Islands and made for the rugged Connemara coast nearby. They landed the plane in a bog at Derrygimleigh, which is 7km south of Clifden.

The pair, from Manchester, made their way to the nearby Marconi Wireless Station and eventually on to London where they were greeted as heroes and knighted by King George V within the week.

‘Twinning agreement’

The Alcock and Brown centenary festival in Clifden runs from 11th to 16th of June.

A statue of the two men, commissioned in the 1950s and later placed at Heathrow airport, has been flown into Co Galway for the celebrations this week.

To mark the centenary of the flight, Minister Kyne announced a “twinning agreement” between national parks in Canada and Co Galway.

The arrangement will pair the Connemara National Park and the Marconi Station in Ireland, with Terra Nova National Park and Signal Hill National Historic Site in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Speaking ahead of the centenary event, Mr Kyne said “the signing of a twinning agreement between Connemara National Park and the Marconi Station in Ireland, and Terra Nova National Park and Signal Hill National Historic Site in Newfoundland, Canada build on our historic ties.”

The agreement would be the “first step” in a growing relationship between the Irish National Parks and Wildlife Service, and Parks Canada, the Canadian national parks body, he said.