Flying Fortress - Athenry 1943


Our year got off to a marvelous start, on the 15th of January 2003. This day coincided exactly with the 60th anniversary of the crash-landing of the B17 named ‘STINKY’ in the grounds of the Athenry Agricultural College on the 15thJanuary 1943. The committee launched the project in the ‘Old Railway Hotel’ this was the venue to which the planes crew and distinguished passengers who happened as it turned out to be the ‘Top Brass’ of the U.S. Army at the time were brought.   

Among the guests were Mr. Noel Treacy T.D., Col. Patrick Moran C. O. Renmore Barracks Galway,Col. John O’Sullivan Attaché to the American Embassy in Ireland and many other guests who were either eyewitnesses or those who were representing community groups and organisations from the Athenry community. We outlined our aims and what we expected achieve, to a packed house. The media were well represented by RTE’s Nation Wide team and most of the national and local newspaper groups covered the event.  The project had three main objectives, create an exhibition for display, publish the history and promote tourism. We are proud to say that we, with help, have two thirds of the task completed. The third outstanding task is one, which we hope will gather a momentum of its own in the coming seasons.  

However we fully appreciate that a marketing exercise needs to be undertaken to broadcast the message that such an interesting part of our 20th century history is available to see in the form of a static display and audiovisual presentation in Athenry Heritage Centre. The highlight of the year came a little later than originally planned, but we can proudly say it was well worth waiting for.  

Pictures from the Launch of "Eagles over Ireland" by Paul Browne in Mellowes College, Athenry 06.12.2003

US Ambassador

United States Ambassador in Ireland, Mr. James C. Kenny inspects the guard of honour from Renmore Barracks, Galway

The date was the 6th of December 2003 and the venue was the Teagasc Conference Centre in the grounds of Mellows Agricultural College, Athenry. This time the venue was on the actual crash site. The conference room is on the actual spot where the B17 would have  first hit the ground before coming to rest 200 yards away, narrowly missing total disaster by not entering the fast approaching ‘Maloney’s Wood’.  

A guard of honour and colour party from Renmore Barracks Galway welcomed His Excellency the Ambassador of the United States of America in Ireland Mr. James C. Kenny to the occasion of the project presentation to unveil a commemorative plaque. He was accompanied by Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture & Food, Mr. Noel Treacy T.D. who addressed the gathering on behalf of the Irish Government and formerly launched the book ‘Eagles Over Ireland’ the historic record of the incident and the role the personnel on board had in the winning of WWII for the Allied forces against Nazism and Fascism and the role they played in the evolution and formation of the European Union we enjoy as citizens of both Ireland and Europe today. To endorse this Mr. Sean Ó Neachtain M.E.P. was amongst the distinguished guest list. Other presentations and addresses were made by Mr. Peter Feeney, Local Councilor and Chairman of the Athenry Community Council, Mr. Gerry Doherty, President of Athenry Credit Union, Mr. J.J. Higgins, Galway Rural Development and Professor Etienne Rynne on behalf of the Athenry Arts and Heritage Centre.

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Finbarr O'Regan, chairperson Flying Fortress Athenry 1943, Ambassador Kenny, Paul Browne, author and Gerry Ahern, treasurerat the Launch of "Eagles over Ireland".

The committee chairperson and project co-ordinator Mr. Finbarr O'Regan acted as Master of Ceremonies for the event. He welcomed all the distinguished guests to include members of Major James Timoney’s family... Noreen, Gearóid and Fr. Pearse. Major Timoney was the C.O. of Renmore Barracks who took charge of the scene in 1943. Finbarr O’Regan in his address detailed the work undertaken and the objectives achieved. Mr. Ger Shortle welcomed all to the event on behalf of Mellows College. Mr. Paul Browne, author of the book ‘Eagles Over Ireland’ gave an audiovisual presentation including slides and archive film footage about the relevant history and spoke about the facts contained in his book.Mr. Gerry Ahern project facilitator presented the exhibit and artifacts into the custodianship of the Arts and Heritage Centre.  

At the crash site in the Nursery Field, Mellowes College on the 6th December 2003.

Mr. Noel Treacy TD, Paul Browne, Gilbert McCarthey, Redmond Carr, Ambassador Kenny, Pauline McCarthy, Finbarr O'Regan, Eddie Somers, Ger Shortle, Dana O'Sullivan US Embassy, Greg Rabbitte.

After a memorable morning, which made history in its own way, the Ambassador made his way out to the crash site accompanied by committee members, guests and eyewitnesses. He observed the wall, which had probably saved the lives of the 16 on board.The plane struck the wall at over 70 mph and lost its undercarriage and wheels in the process, enabling the plane to skid to a halt 100 yards further on. The final resting place of the plane was denoted by a magnificent ‘Stars and Stripes’ flying distinctively in front of the ominous and formidable presence of ‘Maloney’s Wood’ at the end of the Nursery field.  

Planting Oak

Planting a Red Oak Tree in the College Grounds to mark the historic occasion.

Before leaving for a special luncheon in the New Park Hotel in Athenry the Ambassador Mr.James C. Kenny planted a Red Oak in the grounds of Mellows College, the plane on its final approach had struck and damaged the trees at the entrance to the College. Jokingly it was stated that this was a token, which would cover the damage caused.

Book presentation

In the Newpark Hotel, Athenry for lunch.

The Ambassador was overwhelmed by the hospitality, and commented that the U.S. personnel all those years ago could not have landed amongst nicer people. He was thrilled and exhilarated by the enthusiasm he found in Athenry and said like his other famous U.S. colleague ...“I’ll be Back”.

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Peadar Monaghan Athenry ADC, facillators of the project, Gerry Doherty Athenry Credit Union, Gerry Ahern ADC, AmbassadorKenny, Bernadette O'Shea ADC, Finbarr O'Regan ADC and Peter Feeney ADC in the Newpark Hotel for lunch after the launch of "Eagles over Ireland"by Paul Browne.

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Finbarr O'Regan, Ambassador Kenny, Stephanie O'Regan and Luminita Vasille from Cluj Napoca, Romania.

The Flying Fortress Athenry 1943 committee would like to extend a big thank you to all the local partners who assisted us throughout the past year to achieve our objectives of being able to present our finished exhibit for permanent display in the Arts and Heritage Centre Athenry and to publish the book ‘Eagles Over Ireland’. The generosity of the Generals families in America put the icing on the cake, the artefacts donated are wonderful. The late Christy Flynn formerly of Cross St., Athenry donated the only physical artifact that could in any way be connected with the B17 ‘STINKY’…namely a .50 calibre shell which was part of the ammunition on board to be used if necessary in self-defence. If you know of any other surviving artifacts, no matter how damaged or how small we would ask that you might consider donating them to the local heritage of Athenry. Whilst such things are nice to own, they serve no real purpose in a shed at the bottom of a garden.  

Text by Paul Browne  

"Eagles over Ireland" by Paul Browne  Published by "Flying Fortress Athenry 1943"  

Website - www.eagles-over-ireland.site50.net

Note: The Book "The Lambert's of Athenry" is now sold out! No more copies left!

Other Athenry Publications:  
History of Athenry page
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