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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.