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Brief History

Article Index
Brief History
The beginnings of the modern club
Recent developments

The early years of flying

The Aero Club of Ireland, founded in 1909, held its first meeting in August 1910 at Leopardstown Racecourse. When the Royal Flying Corps - formed in 1912 - began manoeuvres in Ireland just prior to WW1, private flying was suspended and the Aero Club dissolved.  In 1918 the RFC developed an airfield with two hangars at Oranmore, and when, later in the year, the RFC merged with the Royal Naval Air service to become the Royal Air Force, several squadrons passed through Galway.

Vickers VimyDuring the 1920s and 1930s, Oranmore was the base for all aerial activity in the West of Ireland.  Had its runway been of sufficient length to allow for takeoff of a fuel-laden aircraft, the first east-west crossing of the Atlantic in 1928 would have originated there.  Noteworthy events that were initiated at Oranmore include the Galway/London Air Mail delivery in August 1929, the Galway/Berlin air-link in 1932 and the founding of the short lived Western Air Transport Co. Ltd of 1933 —“Saorstát’s First Air Service”.

Though the airfield at Oranmore was under the jurisdiction of Galway County Council, the Councilors and members of the Corporation combined their efforts to have such alterations made to the field as were necessary in order to obtain a full licence, which was eventually granted at the end of August 1947.  By this time, John O’Donnell had begun negotiations with Shannon Aero Club instructors, but there does not appear to have been any flight training at Oranmore during 1947; in 1948 he arranged for “Darby” Kennedy to travel from Weston.  From 1948 to 1951, Club members flew on Thursdays and Sundays during the summer months, but despite O’Donnell’s best efforts to stimulate local interest, there was no increase in membership and the Club went into decline.  The few enthusiastic members joined Shannon Aero Club, which by this time was based at Coonagh.