Relatives of lookouts gather for unveiling of restored EIRE sign in Dalkey
Sign was designed to inform fighter pilots of State’s neutrality in the second World War
Relatives of those who manned the EIRE sign in Dalkey gather with those who helped restore it. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw / The Irish Times
Relatives of Defence Force members who acted as lookouts along Ireland’s coasts during the second World War were among dozens of people who gathered in south Dublin on Tuesday for the formal unveiling of a recently restored EIRE sign.
The sign which is located below the Vico Road in Dalkey, was one of 83 around Ireland’s coasts designed to inform fighter pilots overhead of the State’s neutrality in the war. It has recently been restored by Dalkey Tidy Towns with the help of local volunteers .
The sign in Dalkey was lookout post number seven. All of them are about 30m wide and 12m from top to bottom. They were critical to Ireland’s neutral state during the war, when invasion by the Nazis was a real possibility.
Among those who attended the unveiling was Robert Smith, whose brother Jimmy Smith was a volunteer at lookout post number seven.
“He worked as a porter on the railway with CIE in his younger days,” he said. “He applied to be a volunteer with the local defence forces during the war. He was taken on as a lookout. We lived in Killiney near the beach in the railway cottages.
“The job involved observing activity in the sea and in the air. Any activity they got they would write it down in their log book. If there was anything they might be concerned about, they would pass that on to the army.
“Some of this information would find its way over to the Ministry of Defence in England. There would have been bombs dropped in the Irish Sea by a few German planes in retreat, trying to escape the British fighters.
“They would also have observed the planes going up to bomb Belfast at the time of the Belfast bombings. They would have tried to pass information on to Belfast, but the planes got there faster.”
The letters are made of small irregular granite stones, held firm within in mortar, and painted white.
The sign was covered by about 30cm of muck and vegetation. Dalkey Tidy Towns excavated about 1,000 tonnes of granite stones from the trenches in the ground, cleaned and placed them back in position.
The event on Tuesday was also attended by Minister of State Mary Mitchell O’Connor, councillors and Air Corp dignitaries.