Malin Head
EIRE at Malin Head

At the beginning of the war there was very little activity but from 1940 German air raids on merchant shipping became a common site, On August 12th 1940, Malin Head recorded 41 life boats and 13 rafts washing ashore as a result of sustained German U-boat attack on a British convoy and the sinking of five ships. Gunfire and explosions were recorded regularly and on March 11th 1941 the body of British RAF sergeant was washed up in Malin Head following a dogfight between the RAF and Luftwaffe out at sea. He was buried the following day in Malin Church of Ireland graveyard.

On the flat plain just below the Banba’s tower is the word EIRE, marked in stone and painted white. This was an important navigational marker for pilots in World War Two to alert aircraft to neutral Ireland ("Éire" English: "Ireland") during WWII.

In May 1942 30 ships stopped for three hours, 20 miles off the Head until a further 10 ships joined the convoy. All then headed westwards.

Éamon de Valera (Fianna Fáil,) then head of government himself visited Malin Head lookout post number 80 in 1943, signing the log book. In June 1944 the Éire sign was constructed to warn incoming aircraft that they entering neutral air space. They proved a great navigation aid for Allied air crews for the remainder of the war.

During these years the large flat-roofed semaphore building on the left as you approach the Tower became an integral part of the Sunday afternoon social scene in Malin Head. Its flat concrete floor was used for dancing with the likes of Neal Toland, John Donovan and William McLaughlin (Williams) Michael Doherty (Sprigger) providing the music. The band was called Seaside Serenades. When the war ended the site quickly fell into ruin.


On July 29th 1943 a 40 ship convoy was spotted off Malin Head reflecting the numerous convoy sightings in the area which became a major assembly point for Allied convoys heading west. Military engagements at sea could be often heard from the lookout post.