Signs on the Irish coast

UPDATE: EIRE79 – Fanad Head – 21 September 2018

The location for Fanad Head’s sign was identified via aerial photography done by TG4. From the photographs I’ve seen, the 9, and probably part of the frame are currently visible, but little else. I suspect this sign reappeared as a result of the weather in Ireland in summer 2018 and looking at the aerial photographs I used for the original search a few years ago, the sign is not visible on any of them. There is some evidence of stones in the area in the 1995 OSI photographs however, and from what I can ascertain, they align with the location of the 9 which has reappeared. The 9 is very similar to the 9 on Achill 59, and a few of signs which feature 6s. I will post this one as soon as I have the right to post a photograph.

UPDATE: additional locations:

I’ve received information about a few other locations which I am reviewing at the moment. I will update the map and site accordingly

UPDATE: EIRE6 – Howth Head – 13 September 2018

The location for Howth Head has been updated following updated information provided to me by a poster on Boards.ie. A lot of the early information for this site came through posters on that community website and again, it has helped a lot.

Update: EIRE08 – Bray Head – 13 September 2018

This sign has been cleaned up and restored. I am really, really hoping to see it the next time I fly into Dublin.

Update: EIRE30 – Mizen Head – 8 August 2018

New (and more likely) location identified. Map updated via a comment on the site

Additional updates to Donegal – 8 August 2018:

Photographs by Conor Corbett added to:

Addition of another USAAF map – 8 August 2018

Map is of the Pennines but includes the east coast of Ireland and the LOP numbers are identified. See here. Map is by kind permission of the Oregan Chapter 8th Air Force Historical Society.

Update on signs in Kerry – 7 August 2018

EIRE83 – Foileye Head

EIRE38 – Sign on the Blasket Islands

A number of people have been good enough to bring my attention to two signs in Kerry which I was not aware of.

MAJOR UPDATE 6 AUGUST 2018 – EIRE 8, Bray Head, Wicklow

The Eire sign at Bray Head has been revealed following a major fire there in July 2018. The record for the sign is here, and the map has been updated accordingly.

 

 

 

 

 

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 83 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 30, all on the western coastline. The largest number of them are still to be seen on headlands in Donegal, where the greatest number of them have survived. Mayo has a significant number also

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.

47 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

    Reply
    1. DENNIS Burke

      In the Irish Military Archives G2 files for crashed foreign aircraft there is in one of the American files a copy of a document recovered from an abandined B-17 which if I recall correctly either lists the numbers or explains that they are listed on the nav maps given to crews. This was an Air Transport Command, Ferry Division document. I think I have something in a file from US National Archives.

      Reply
  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, http://pillboxstudygroup.freeforums.org/clogherhead-lookout-posts-rep-of-ire-t732.html

    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.

    http://www.clogherhead.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=73&Itemid=80

    I look forward to hearing from you

    Reply
    1. Cormac McDonnell

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

      Reply
  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

    Reply
    1. Brian murphy

      Hi,
      Lops still survive in substantial ruin at Greenore point no 13, Carnsore point, no 14 and Kilmore Quay no 15 in Wexford.
      The Eire signs are not visible but are believed to be still in existence under the soil. The search is on for them! BM

      Reply
      1. admin Post author

        I would be interested if these turned up. I need to check but I understood many were removed if the land was usable for crops or farming and this was particularly an issue on the east and south east coast.

        Reply
    1. Dominic McDermott

      Fantastic – We have a mobile coffee shop at Banba’s Crown, Malin Head. The most asked question we get is “what does the 80 EIRE sign mean” We always explain, but now we have a list of all of them. Thanks

      Reply
  4. Karl

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

    http://maps.osi.ie/publicviewer/#V1,568821,873202,11,5

    https://www.bing.com/maps/?v=2&cp=54.606101~-8.482781&lvl=19&sty=h&form=LMLTCC

    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 http://maps.osi.ie/publicviewer/#V1,725336,666181,7,0 this might not be anything, it would probably require a visit to the location to confirm.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.
    Thx
    John

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  9. Patrick Lynch

    The St Johns EIRE 70 has been fully restored. The EIRE is at a 90 degree angle to the 70 and a short distance from it. It has been restored using natural stone unpainted (unfinished?) whilst the 70 is painted white.
    It can be seen (just about) in its pre-restored state on Google Earth.

    Patrick

    Reply
  10. Caroline Gallagher

    Hi we were in Downpatrick today. It reminded us that there was one in Loughros Point Ardara. Co. Donegal. It’s partially covered over now. We’re not sure what number accompanied it.

    Reply
  11. Declan

    EIRE80 right up at Malian Head, easily accessible. It’s the first one I’ve come across. I will try and take photos of as many as I find on my trip around ireland

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Malin Head was actually the first one I saw. At the time I had absolutely no idea what they were for.

      Reply
    1. admin Post author

      I am struggling to find this one. The aerial photographs for the Great Blasket on Google are cloudcovered, and the west side is not clear on the Microsoft photographs. I also have not been able to locate the watch tower ruins. Help would be appreciated.

      Reply
  12. Maureen Moriarty

    Just listening to the news about the fire revealing the EIRE sign in Wicklow and it brought back memories of when I was a child staying with my aunt in toe head co cork just in front of her house the EIRE28 sign was there . She explained all about it to me I was fascinated. Thanks for the great web page

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      I believe the associated lookout post was built later than the initial 82 look out posts. I’ve added it to the map and to the list for Kerry.

      Reply
  13. A. O'Mahony

    Have a look at Mizen Head at 51.452519. -9.814934 which is lower on the hillside to website location. Looks more likely to me but interested to see what you think.

    Reply
  14. A. O'Mahony

    Just wondering if there were any markings along the border for aircraft to distinguish between Northern Ireland and Eire ?

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Hi there.

      I don’t actually know, to be honest with you. That being said, they shouldn’t have been approaching Northern Ireland from the wrong side of the border as it were…until the Donegal Air Corridor went into effect, I guess.

      Reply
  15. A O Mahony

    Drumanoo head Donegal has Eire sign but doesn’t seem to have a corresponding LOP . Would be interesting to know how many extra Eire signs there really are!

    Reply

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