Jet set gets ready to descend on Longford and display its skill and craft for all to see

 

It seems just about everyone in the midlands will be out and about on Sunday when Longford stages its biggest day out at Abbeyshrule Annual Fly-in and Airshow.

More than 10,000 people are expected in the picturesque village on the banks of the Royal Canal on the Longford-Westmeath border on Sunday evening.

Abbeyshrule, with only a few hundred inhabitants, is an unlikely place for what will be a major international event with visiting aircraft and visitors from all over Europe.

Not according to Ted McGooey, from the village, who helps organise the event which began 27 years ago on a grass airstrip outside the town.

"There were a few lads around here mad about flying, and there was a debt on the local parish centre.

"They decided to have a fund-raiser for the local priest, Father McCabe, and that is how it started," he said.

"It has been running since, and we believe it is now the longest-running airshow in the Republic, if not in the entire country.

"We are very proud of that," he said.

"It is Longford's largest tourist attraction and it helps put the area and the county on the map. We are a tourist-orientated village and the show helps," he said.

Mr McGooey said that since the show's early days the airport at Abbeyshrule has developed greatly and now has a 600m tarmac airstrip.

"The good news is that as soon as the airshow finishes, work will begin on laying down an extra 300m of tarmac which is being funded by the Midland East Tourism organisation.

"We are also proud that the Air Corps, which is our biggest supporter for the show, uses our airstrip to train its pilots," he said.

This weekend there will be aircraft from the United States, Russia, Germany and Britain. There will be Irish and German sky-diving teams, aerobatics by Irish and UK pilots, and Ireland's best-known aircraft, Aer Lingus's Iolar will be on display.

Most of the aircraft will arrive in Abbeyshrule on Friday night when there will be a barbecue and reception for the visitors which will feature a night of Irish entertainment.

The Russian ambassador to Ireland, Mr Eugeny Mikhailov, will be the guest of honour at the special Fly-In Banquet this Saturday night.