Malin Head

Interesting Facts

On 3rd April 1902 the Derry Journal reports the Marconi Company succeeded in sending the first commercial message by wireless from Malin Head to the ship S.S. Lake Ontario thus establishing Malin Head as an important staging post for future trans-Atlantic communication.

The wireless radio station at Malin Head has been involved in some historic, even notorious exchanges. In 1910 the Signal Tower was reputed to have sent the message that resulted in the arrest of the murderous Dr. Crippin as he sailed towards Canada along with his mistress Ethel Le Neve. This story was confirmed to Peter McAvenue by the granddaughter of George Turner, Belfast, telegraphist on duty at the tower while the messages were being transmitted between the Laurentic the Montrose and Scotland Yard. George Turner was billeted at the time in the Coastguard Station.

The Station also exchanged wireless telegraphs with the Titanic on Monday April 1st 1912. The Titanic was conducting her sea trials and tested her Marconi equipment with the Malin Head station. The station received a greetings message from John G. Phillips and Harold Bride, radio operators on board, on behalf of the newly constructed ship, the largest liner in the world at the time.

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.

During World War II, the Irish government allowed the British government to site two radio direction finders on Malin Head. This top-secret operation was mentioned in the The Cranborne Report. The RDF equipment was used to monitor U-Boat and aerial activity in the North Atlantic.