The ‘Alcock and Brown 100’ Festival was launched in Buswells Hotel. The festival celebrates the centenary of one of the greatest
feats of early aviation - the first non-stop transatlantic flight in history, completed by John Alcock and Arthur Whitten-Brown in 1919.
Starting from St John’s, Newfoundland in their Vickers Vimy biplane, Alcock and Brown made history as they crossed the ocean and landed in Clifden, Connemara, Co. Galway 16 hours and 28 minutes later, with Alcock famously being the first person in Europe to
announce “Yesterday we were in America”.
Launching the event was Brendan Griffin, Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. Special guests in
attendence were Tony Alcock MBE, retired RAF pilot and nephew of pioneering pilot John Alcock, as well as RTE’s Ryan Tubridy, who was awarded the freedom of Connemara in 2011 and has a close connection to the Clifden area.
Fionnan Nestor from Fáilte Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way said
“We are delighted to support the ‘Alcock and Brown 100’ Festival. The Wild Atlantic Way initiative is all about encouraging visitors to engage with the true essence and story of areas along the West Coast of Ireland - Alcock and Brown’s landing site at Derrigimlagh is one of our Signature Discovery Points along the coastal route and we have invested €1.2m in the site to significantly enhance the visitor experience there. The centenary celebrations will build on that investment and drive further interest in the site which brings to life the rich history of the area.”
The actual landing site of the plane, Derrigimlagh is one of the 15 Signature Discovery Points along the Wild Atlantic Way. The landing site was, coincidentally also the site of Guglielmo Marconi’s Wireless Station and is located just south of Clifden, the ‘Capital of Connemara’, one of Ireland’s most vibrant and picturesque towns with a majestic backdrop of the Twelve Bens mountain range (“Benna Beola”) and the stunning Atlantic coastline. Steeped in history and culture, as well as a wide range of accommodation and hospitality facilities, Clifden is already a very popular destination for those looking to explore the the magic of the West of Ireland and the breathtaking Wild Atlantic Way. It is expected that the centenary celebrations will lead to even more visitors to this special part of Ireland.
Speaking about the festival, Terence O’Toole, President of the Connemara Chamber of Commerce and Chairperson of the Festival said, “We are delighted to officially launch the centenary celebrations of this significant milestone in history. We are looking forward to welcoming people from across the country, and from farther afield, to Clifden, to learn more about the remarkable achievement of Alcock and Brown and the extraordinary journey that ended with them crash-landing in a bog in the West of Ireland.”
The Alcock and Brown 100 Festival will take place next summer and will include a range of different events to celebrate one of the most important flights in history, with the highlight being a full reenactment of the 1919 landing and welcome of Alcock and Brown to Clifden.