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Airship Sheds
United Kingdom - RNAS Killeagh


Country: United Kingdom Location: RNAS Killeagh Airship Station
Location
Facilities
Actual
Proposed

Airship Sheds:
I Rigid Shed - Double Berth shed (840ft long, 150ft wide, and 13oft high) Partially completed
.
1 Coastal Shed (356ft Long, 160ft wide, 75ft high) Partially completed

 

Proposed based airships - 2 x Rigid 33 class ship

2 x Coastal Class ships

 

 

 

A RNAS base located on the opposite side of the Irish Sea from the from Wales, was deemed of strategic importance for the Western Approaches. Shipping was coming in from across the Atlantic and one of the major shipping ports was Liverpool, located on the mouth of the River Mersey, along side Bristol to the south. RNAS bases were being planned at both Pembroke and Angelsey in Wales, but a base in Ireland was also needed.

Ireland was still part of Great Britain when war broke out in 1914, and was geographically important. A small naval base was situated at Queenstown (now Cobh) located near Cork in the south of Ireland. It was thought that the naval warfare would be confined to the North Sea or the English Channel, but this was soon revised when the first German submarines entered the Irish Sea and sank three ships in the mouth of the Mersey as early as January 1915. With the sinking of the passenger liner R.M.S Lusitania on 7th May 1915, being torpedoed by a German submarine, off the South Irish coast, meant that the game has changed and all shipping around the waters of the United Kingdom was at risk.

Three mooring out stations were set up along the coast of the Irish Sea, at Larne to the north of Belfast, a mooring out station for ships from RNAS Luce bay in Scotland, Malahide, a mooring out site for the ships from RNAS Anglesey, and Wexford, a mooring out site for ships from RNAS Pembroke. None of these mooring out stations had airship sheds, but were normally clearings in woodlands to use the trees as natural windbreak protection.

A more permanent solution was needed and it was decided that the site of Kelleagh near Cork surveyed and chosen as suitable location.

 
 
 
 

The land around Killeagh was suitable for an airship station, as it was flat and had access to an abundant supply of water. It was also close in location to the Royal Naval base at Queenstown, and also close to the Cork-Toughal railway line. The contractors for the construction of the base came across from the British mainland, along with much of the materials to build the base. Building commenced on the aerodrome and site in February 1918.

The contractor was awaited to Mssrs F.Morton and Co., Liverpool. Much of it was sent to the site via sea, arriving at Cork, and then being transported to the airship station by rail. A separate siding was built at Killeagh. Work continued on the base for nearly a year after the Armistice was signed in November 1918. Work was called to a halt on 20th August 1919.

One shed was half finished and the other was about a third completed when the construction was called to a halt. The station was then transferred from the Admiralty to the Air Ministry in 1919. No further work was undertaken on the site after this date.

It was envisaged that some of the large airship shed could be used to build other bases which were being reviewed, for Cairo and Egypt in connection with the plan to establish an airship service across the British Empire. Some components of the sheds had not been delivered to Ireland, and remained in store in Liverpool.

The smaller Coastal shed was dismantled in 1921, and at independence, the site was handed over to the new Irish Free State Government.

The site of RNAS Killeagh remained derelict and much of the corrugated iron cladding on the shed was stolen. In 1938 the site was shortlisted as a site for the new Cork Airport, but a local politician overruled the idea as he didn't want it built in his constituency. A few of the buildings and a large concrete water tower have managed to survive albeit in a derelict state.

 
 

 

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