Signs on the Irish coast

Key pages:

A map of still extant Neutrality signs is on Google Maps here.

Images of the signs visible on Google and Bing Maps are sorted by county here.

Updates to the site are posted here.

Introduction to this project:

Many years ago, in a piece about the lighthouses on the coast of Brittany, I saw a comment that the lighthouses were to tell the mariner where he was, and not just to warn him against rocks. In 1942-1943, a large number of signs were placed along the Irish coast to tell pilots where they were.

Today, we take high technology navigational aids for granted. In the 1940s, GPS did not exist. In 1942-43, close to the locations of the coastal watch huts, signs were placed on the Irish coast to identify the land below as Eire, and not, for example, Great Britain or Northern Ireland. Shortly after the EIRE signs were constructed, mostly by the volunteers of the local Look Out Post (known in the documentation as LOPs), the identifying number of the relevant LOP was added, enhancing the signs’ value as a navigational aid. A list of LOPs, their locations and numbers were given to allied pilots thus allowing themselves to reduce the risk of crashing in the Republic of Ireland, and also, giving them greater detail on where they were.

Currently available information suggests the signs were really only of use during the day, although according to Michael Kennedy’s work on the Coastal Watch (Guarding Neutral Ireland, 2009), fires may have been lit near some of the signs during winter nights.

Approximately 85 of these signs were built. I don’t have an exact number. There were 82 coastal watch stations and I believe that at least two sites constructed two signs, namely Achill Island and Slieve League. In 2012, realising there was no list of the still existing signs, I decided to locate as many of them as could still be seen from commercially available satellite imagery. I have been fortunate to locate more than 15, all on the western coastline. Eight of them are still to be seen on headlands in Donegal, where the greatest number of them have survived.

In researching this, I have learned a great deal about the coastal watch in Ireland during the Emergency, that great language by which we engaged in the myth that we were not at war. I have spent a great deal of time reviewing maps, satellite photographs and aerial photographs. A certain number of people have been very helpful in terms of locating these signs. Some of these people, I will not even know their real names.

Time is not kind to these installations but a number of them in Mayo, Donegal, Cork and Clare have been recently renovated.

14 thoughts on “Signs on the Irish coast

  1. Patrick Doyle

    Thank you for this very informative web page. I would be very pleased if you could help with some research I am working on. Where can I find information showing that lists of location numbers were given to allied pilots. Thank you

  2. Michael Turnbull

    Hello, this is a fascinating website and i’m very interested in gaining knowledge about these LOP’s and the EIRE markers, here’s a link a post I made to the Pillbox Study Group forum with pictures of the LOP at Clogherhead in County Louth,

    Here is a link to a page on the history of Clogherhead and it mentions the existance of an EIRE marker near the lookout post, I have searched for this and I am yet to find it.

    I look forward to hearing from you

    1. Cormac McDonnell

      Sorry about delay just looked at this again yes it’s the same site it’s in very bad their any grants or something for doing them up

  3. admin Post author

    Hi Cormac, can you give me any more clues exactly where? I’ve a possible site at 53.575565, -10.126698 but if it’s that, it’s in extremely bad repair. Otherwise, if you can give me directions with respect to the harbour or any other landmark in the area, that would be good. Thanks, Treasa

  4. Karl

    Between St. John’s Point(EIRE 70) and Carrigan Head (EIRE71) there is a mark at Drumanoo Head, Killybegs,568821,873202,11,5

    also in County Wexford at Kilmichael Point LOP if you look at this point in the map you can posibly see an EIRE sign here,725336,666181,7,0 this might not be anything, it would probably require a visit to the location to confirm.

  5. DC

    Hi, just a small point. Although Ireland was effectively a republic during the Emergency, it was only officially declared as such in 1949. At the time it was known as Éire, or, in the English language, Ireland.

  6. Brian Coulter

    EIR6 on Howth Head is clearly visible as a 20m diameter stone circle on Google Earth at 53° 22.966’N, 6° 3.145’W. I have not yet visited it – it is on farmland but it seems to be well maintained.

  7. John

    At st johns point lighthouse there is an eire 10/ eire 70 marking cant work out which, but it looks as if it has recently been restored as there is fresh dig marks, concrete and paint although it looks like its not completely finished as the eire marking is only half painted. Was just interested in any info about this.

  8. Linda Keohane

    Thank you so much for this site, it’s brilliant. Found the one on Inis Mór last year, after a bit of a search.


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