Clifden celebrates its place in aviation history

One hundred years since Alcock and Brown's flight

Clifden soared into aviation history when John Alcock and Arthur Whitten-Brown landed in the west of Ireland having completed the world's first transatlantic flight, and the town is set to celebrate again with a spectacular centenary commemoration.

The heroes of that first non-stop transatlantic flight will be commemorated with a string of events in June to mark one of the greatest feats in aviation history.

The summer festival will be packed with a line-up of events in which Clifden will re-discover the amazing story of the respected, unsung local heroes, Alcock and Brown.

Flying a two-man Vickers Vimy biplane, Sir John Alcock and Sir Arthur Whitten-Brown made history when they flew from Newfoundland, Canada, and crash landed at Derrigimlagh Bog, Connemara after 16 hours and 28 minutes.

Making it out alive, the pioneering British aviators marked their place in history and were awarded a prize of £10,000 by the London Daily Mail in addition to knighthoods from the British Empire. They had carried a small amount of mail with them, also making it the first transatlantic airmail flight.

This year's special festival will bring to life one of the most significant moments with a live re-enactment of the 1919 landing in Derrigimlagh. Visitors will also have a front seat at the premiere of the Alcock and Brown full length documentary screening featuring the nearest surviving relative to Captain Alcock, Tony Alcock MBE.

An Post will launch a commemorative postage stamp to mark the centenary, and the festival will also see the Central Bank of Ireland launch a €15 silver proof coin to commemorate aviation’s most significant feats.

The Relative’s and Connections afternoon tea reception will welcome extended family of pioneers Alcock and Brown in addition to relatives of the first photographer Peter Mechan, while the Alcock & Brown Artefacts Exhibition, taking place throughout the festival, will offer visitors the fantastic opportunity to see pieces of the plane still in existence.

The festival’s Remembering Marconi event will celebrate Clifden’s connection to the site of the first commercial transatlantic wireless transmission, with live broadcasts taking place throughout the festival from the site of Guglielmo Marconi’s Wireless Station.

There will also be a unique remembrance of the landing in Derrigimlagh, and a statue of Alcock and Brown at London Heathrow Airport will also be transported to Clifden for the centenary celebrations.

Festival organisers are keen to ensure the festival is about fun and learning for all the family, with educational events and a series of seminars exploring the Alcock and Brown story and the many aspects of the historic flight.

The Alcock and Brown National Schools Science Fair will capture the imagination of budding, young scientists. A series of guided tours will be hosted by local historians and archaeologists throughout the festival, in addition to a fun and fact trail taking place in Clifden town. Leading literary legends, Tony Curtis and Brendan Lynch, will host all-absorbing poetry readings and discussions.

The twinning of Connemara National Park with Terra Nova National Park, Newfoundland, will take place during this festival, with Canadian Ambassador Kevin Vickers in attendance.

Both young and old are sure to be enthralled by original Centenary Production Those Magnificent Men. The play will authentically bring to life the amazing story of one of the most pivotal moments in aviation history, while other events include the traditional boat regatta, the Tour De Bens Cycle, and the Golf Classic.

With the street parade and the carnival in town, it will make for an week of entertainment for all the family.

Visitors can look forward to rousing traditional music from Trad in the West, who will be joined by a host of other musicians performing live such as Yvonne Tiernan & The Grey Willows Band and many more.

For more information about Alcock & Brown 100 Festival, see the official website https://alcockandbrown100.com/. Follow Alcock & Brown 100 on Facebook ( Alcock & Brown 100 ) and Instagram (alcockandbrown100 ).

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