Castlebar (Mayo)

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Image - Des Gaffney (RTE Twitter)
Image - Des Gaffney (RTE Twitter)

Castlebar Aiport ceased operations in 2001 only to be demolished to make way for a new retail park, Castlebar Retail Park that is now the home to Woodies and Harvey Norman among others.

It was founded in 1966 by the Ryan brothers and their brother-in-law, Dermot McDermott.  It is said that £4,500 was paid for the site on Breaffy Road, with £7,000 spent on the terminal building, and the runway cost a further £23,000.  A three-bedroom house in Dublin would have cost £2,500 at that time, to put it in perspective.

According to AskAboutIreland:

"Castlebar has a long history of aviation. William Munnelly of Castlebar and James Mee of Mullingar, who later settled in Castlebar, were among the members of the Royal Flying Corps, forerunners of the Royal Air Corps, who landed regularly in Castlebar during the First World War. After the war, pleasure flights came into vogue and this interest eventually developed into Castlebar Regional Airport.........

......A transatlantic flight from Castlebar had first been attempted on 28 August 1927. Undertaken by Terry Tully from Carracastle, an experienced pilot of the Royal Flying Corps, he flew a sponsored flight from London – Ontario – London in the John Carling airplane. Unfortunately, the flight never made its destination and the crew and craft disappeared without trace."

The airport had many planes using the facility and many celebrities landed when appearing in the West.  It was home to the Mayo Flying Club who had several aircraft there over the years.  It had a hangar and a small control tower too,  The Castlebar International Song Contest saw Terry Wogan and Acker Bilk land in 1977 and chart-toppers Madness used the airport in 1982 when they played at the Occasion At The Castle.  In the 1980s, they held an annual air show which was a big attraction locally.  The airport also had a bar and was a very popular venue over the years with many different operators.  It once hosted RTE Radio's Poparama.

Well-known local businessman, Donal McElin, ran the airport for some years before it closed, and as an experienced pilot himself, attracted many enthusiasts to see it.


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