Monday, September 09, 2013

Lady Heath Drops into Lahinch For Swim

The 1920s was the decade of intepid pilots among whom was Lady Heath, born Sophie Mary Pierce-Evans in Knockaderry, Co Limerick, who was famous in her day as the first woman to get a commercial pilot’s licence, to parachute, and to fly a small plane from Cape Town to London. A couple of months after the latter exploit, she took time off to hop along the west coast. – JOE JOYCE
Lahinch, in the County Clare, was thrown into a state of excitement yesterday when a Moth aeroplane landed on the strand unexpectedly. It was the first aeroplane that had ever come down at Lahinch, and hundreds trooped down to the shore to see it.
The pilot was Lady Heath, the well-known Irish airwoman, who is at present visiting the County Kerry, and it was afterwards learned that she flew to Lahinch to enjoy a bathe on the shore there.
Having spent about an hour in the town after she had bathed, Lady Heath took off from the strand, and was soon lost to view.
Twenty minutes later Lady Heath landed at South Park, Galway. She had as passenger Mr. J. Sheppard, of Rathangan, Co Kildare, a pilot in the British Air Force, who is at present on holiday in Ireland. It was Lady Heath’s original intention to land at Oranmore, about five miles from Galway, at the aerodrome used by the British Air Force during the war, but she decided that South Park would make an ideal landing place, especially as it is situated close to the city, and she could easily get petrol and other supplies there.
Before landing, the aeroplane circled once over the city, and the landing was effected without difficulty.
Lady Heath stated that she took off from Ballybunion yesterday at 11.30 a.m. for Galway. The weather was ideal, and when passing over Lahinch she decided that she would like a swim. After a cup of tea at one of the local hotels she and Mr. Sheppard set off for Galway.
“To appreciate Galway properly one must see it from the air,” said Lady Heath. “It was magnificent, the bay and the mountains. The day was one of the clearest on which I have ever been up, and by flying low it was possible to see rocks on the bottom of the sea.” After their arrival in Galway Lady Heath and Mr. Sheppard were taken by Mr. J. O’Donovan to his house at Dominick street, where they had lunch, after which they motored to various places of interest in the city, including The Claddagh, where Mr. O’Donovan presented Lady Heath with a Claddagh ring.
Lady Heath left South Park at about four o’clock yesterday afternoon for Oranmore, where she was to await the arrival of her husband and Dr. [Oliver] St. John Gogarty, who were motoring from Dublin. She intended to fly to Senator Gogarty’s residence in Renvoyle [sic] and land there if possible. She and her husband will stay there for some days.
When she leaves Renvoyle, Lady Heath will fly to Belfast, where she is to lecture on aviation, and she will fly from there to London.
Note: Renvyle (not Renvoyle!) is where I spent the first seven years of my life. 

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