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  • Malin Head, Co. Donegal

    Can anyone tell me if the buildings at Malin Head were part of a military establishment during WW2 ? The tower was a signalling tower,for shipping, but there are several other smaller buildings. They seem to be made from concrete shuttering, suggesting that they were built cheaply and maybe temporarily.

    The word 'EIRE' is still clearly visible marked out on the ground- was this to let German/Allied airmen know that the headland was in neutral Ireland ?

    I had photos but Mrs Spider has just informed me that she has deleted them
    'History is a vast early warning system'. Norman Cousins

  • #2
    Malin Head

    The coastwatching Service had a unit based at Malin Head, and manned the Look Out Post (LOP) one of 83 positioned around the coast beginning at Ballaghan Point in Co Louth (No. 1) and ending up with Inishowen Head No. 82. No. 83 was in Kerry (no it is not a Kerry joke!) Malin Head was No.80. The LOP is the first small building on the right in the picture. The word EIRE was laid out in rocks or concrete, painted white and was 30 feet high. They were marked thus at the request of the USAAF. The large tower dates back to Napoleonic times and was not used by the DF in WW2. HTH
    Tony K
    Attached Files

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    • #3
      Malin Head

      Apologies! I meant to post this picture first as it shows the LOP ie the small building which looks like the wheelhouse of a small trawler.
      Tony K
      Attached Files

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      • #4
        Thats a coastwatching hut from the later days of the emergency. The better ones were equipped with a pot bellied stove.


        Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.

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        • #5
          Malin Head

          Goldie fish that is an interesting comment. I would like very much if you could name one of the LOP's that had a pot bellied stove. I have visited and photographed very many of the LOP's in all parts of the country over many years and I have never come across one that had a location for a stove. As far as I am aware all were to a more or less standard construction (there were exceptions like Carnsore and Achill ) and had a constructed fireplace which one former coastwatcher explained had just about space for three wet sods of turf. Hard times and a lonely existance. If you know of such a location I would like to visit and photgraph it, all additional information adds to my knowledge.
          Tony K

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          • #6
            Thanks for that lads.

            Was the coast watching service a branch of the Navy or a seperate service ?

            That part of the coast must have seen a lot of activity with war-time convoys.
            'History is a vast early warning system'. Norman Cousins

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            • #7
              Earlier in August the people in Beara tourism took an interesting initiative by bringing attention to the approx. 200th anniversary of the Napoleonic era signal towers built around the coast. See www.signaltowersireland.com.

              For some good ariticles on the Coastwatching service and the look out posts see The Irish Sword Emergency Era edition (article by Owen Quinn) and also the website of the Waterford County Museum for some material on the LOP at Ardmore.

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              • #8
                CP, thanks for that. The site on the signal towers is very interesting.

                There are two Martello towers guarding the entrance to Lough Foyle, possibly part of the same chain as the Malin Head signal tower. Would have caused big problems for anyone wanting to get past Magilligan Point uninvited !!

                http://www.jochenlueg.freeuk.com/english/mtower.htm

                Were any of the Napoleonic towers used by the coastwatching service, or were new constructions built at each site?

                Tony, are there any of the 'EIRE' markings still preserved apart from the one at Malin ?
                'History is a vast early warning system'. Norman Cousins

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                • #9
                  That's an interesting question Spider. It would be interesting to get a full listing of the EIRE markings which are still extant. I have seen the following over the years -- excuse the rather vague recollections ( I am sure Tony will be able to give precise location information):

                  Inishmore Aran islands -- marked on Tim Robinsons map

                  Achill

                  Donegal near Slive League I think.


                  I understand that some of the Eire symbols were made from whitewashed stones; others were from sods turned and limed. I imagine the former survived better than the latter.

                  Although the LOPs were of fairly basic construction quite a few have survived the battering of the weather: one near Ballyconneely, near Clifden and the one at Howth Head come to mind.

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                  • #10
                    CP, thanks again. It would be nice to see some of those sites preserved. I was surprised to see the markings still very clearly visible at Malin.

                    I must try to get to some of the sites you have listed and this time make sure my photos don't get erased !!

                    This is a place I hope to get to soon- www.dunree.pro.ie

                    Looks interesting and good to see it so well preserved.
                    'History is a vast early warning system'. Norman Cousins

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                    • #11
                      Malin Head

                      The Marine and Coastwatching Service, originally designated Coast Watching and Marine Branch and then just Coast Watching Service, was established very early in September 1939. Col. S O'Higgins was the officer i/c. It was formed from the Volunteers and each LOP was manned by locals who were very much aware of the locations conditions, including weather ,tides (important when mines were adrift and flotsam from torpedoed ships etc. were likely to land. It also included reporting all aircraft movements.
                      Yes Spider, Malin was one of the busiest LOPs both for shipping and aircraft movements and also there was a wirless station at Malin also at Valentia.
                      There are still some marked EIRE sgns around the country. About 20 years ago there was a huge gorse fire on Howth Head which revealed a fine example but over the years it disappeared and is now gone. The one marked in the attachemnt is actually at Achill Head. I know that there is also one remaining at St. Johns Point in Donegal as well as those listed in the other postings
                      The LOP attached is at Rosroe at the entrance to Killary Harbour and the 3rd attachment shows the tiny fireplace in the LOP. It would be nice to see one preserved as a reminder of those difficult times. HTH
                      Tony K
                      Attached Files

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                      • #12
                        Tony, Thank You for your reply, those are excellent photos, if I manage to get any I will put them on here.
                        'History is a vast early warning system'. Norman Cousins

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                        • #13
                          Malin Head

                          You are welcome Spider.
                          TonyK

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                          • #14
                            There is an 'EIRE' marking on the Dursey island, just down the signal tower

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                            • #15
                              yes, tony, that is a fine idea. There should be at least one LOP and one EIRE marker formally preserved. If I am talking to some Heritage Council people I must float that idea.

                              Mind you sometimes the best that can be achieved is that these things would be preserved by record and in that way you have done great work. I know the pier at Rosroe well but never quite made it out to the LOP.

                              A slightly different subject but still on the question of Emergency era built heritage how many examples survive of concrete pillboxes (as opposed to observation huts)?

                              I can think of the following examples:

                              a number at Oldbridge on the north side of the Boyne

                              one at Monasterevin at the Barrow bridge

                              one, I think, on a rocky outcrop on the Tramore road out of Waterford.

                              Within memory but demolished by building works there were examples at:

                              the Sallins road out of Naas (old rail bridge)

                              the Dublin entrance to Portlaoise (at the ridge cemetery).

                              (In offering these examples I am discounting ones located in obvious military property such as a number on the Curragh).

                              Finally, as another aside again, I see a new book out on the Naval Service by one Aidan McIvor which perhaps has some information on the Coastwatching service.

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