WW2 Memorial and Information Point
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Sculptural piece on 3m stone pillar, commemorating local people, Irish military and government who assisted the International Crew of an RAf Lockhead Hudson light bomber which crash-landed and safely took off from here in 1942.
At 1235 on 16 June 1942 an RAF Ferry Command, Lockheed Hudson light bomber, en-route from Gander, Newfoundland to Prestwick, Scotland to help prevent the imminent invasion of Britain, made a perfect, emergency landing (out of fuel) on this beach, after a perilous 2000-mile, Atlantic crossing.
The Local Defence Force surrounded the aircraft and the three-man crew (plus one); 28 year-old US Naval Aviator from Washington State, Captain, Ernest Leak; 22 year-old Royal Canadian Air Force, Radio Operator from Winnipeg, Canada, Sgt Karl Dzinkowski; 26 year-old RAF, Navigator, from Scotland, Sgt Peter Cowieson, and the mystery-man, known only as Mr Ryan, after ‘advice’ from the Irish Army Officer in charge, declared non-military status before coming out of the plane and were officially recorded as Mr Leak, etc.
The crew were escorted to the Portnablagh Hotel; wined, dined and accommodated overnight by the Walsh family, while Lieut Shannon negotiated with his superiors in Athlone and the Dept of External Affairs in Dublin, a delivery of aviation fuel from an RAF base in Northern Ireland. Next day the plane was drawn back to the eastern end of the beach by local people with farm horses, refuelled by the combined assistance of the Irish Army and many local people who formed a human chain, conveying the “shiny, new (unpainted) Jerry-cans” to the plane, which successfully took off again to resume its flight to Prestwick.
The Children of Lir theme was adapted by Brendan Rohan to represent a 20th century shape-shifting, after an original design and by kind permission of Dublin silversmith, Aidan Breen, which was then interpreted and constructed by local artist and blacksmith, Harry Rice. It is meant to symbolise the four brave young men who travelled such a long and perilous journey over the seas, who dropped in for a short visit and then flew away again next day. This monument also honours the Irish Defence Forces and Irish government who ignored the Rules of Neutrality, to help those in need and ... it honours the generosity, kindness and hospitality of local people who welcomed and assisted them.
Unveiled, 16 June 2014, by Ramona Dzinkowski, (daughter of RCAF Sgt Karl Dzinkowski BEM, from Winnipeg, Canada), who said ...“my dream since childhood has always been to walk that beach which my father landed on in 1942” ... in the presence of local school-children and their 1942 grandparents and neighbours.