Felix Waitkus - His landing in Lituanica 11 in Cloongowla

Photo:John Meehan presenting a piece of the plane to the National Museum of Ireland at Collin's Barracks, Dublin

John Meehan presenting a piece of the plane to the National Museum of Ireland at Collin's Barracks, Dublin

Photo: John Meehan

By John Meehan

The location

Of late, much valuable information has become available to the public locally, in relation to the solo Atlantic flight of Lt. Felix Waitkus which crash landed on the Green Hill in Knockanotish, ‘adjacent to the townland of Cloongowla’ on Sunday Sept 22nd 1935.  This article came about by the discovery of a site photo taken by the late Christy Murphy of Cornmarket (father of Patsy and Alma).


Much excitement was generated locally and nationally by the event.   However, for reasons of clarification and historical correctness, I must state, based on many conversations which the man concerned, namely James Walsh of Cloongowla West, the facts of the direct aftermath of event.

John Walsh

John Walsh and his wife Margaret resided approximately 100 meters from the crash site.   No other residence was as close at that time.   Their house was approx. 1.5 miles (2.40 km) from Ballinrobe.   On that Sunday morning, James was preparing for Mass, as was his duty as he saw it.

As the place crashed he was partially shaved and on hearing the noise with one jaw shaved and the other lathered, he ran to the site.   As he arrived, Lt. Waitkus was battering his way out of the place with a lump hammer, as the door was jammed.   As he exited and laid his foot for the first time on Irish soil, the first Irishman he met was James Walsh.

They both proceeded the short distance to James and Margaret’s house where she duly refreshed Lt. Waitkus. Having thanked them, and told them of his journey, his main worry was to get to a telephone.

In the year 1935 the nearest phone was at the Ballinrobe Garda Station, 1.5 miles away.   Cars were as scarce as phones so he borrowed Margaret’s bike and headed to town.   He was accommodated with a ‘phone call to his wife in New York’ by the late Sgt. Cronin of New Street, who then took charge of events.

The rest is history…….

Signed:  John Meehan, Cloongowla West, Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo 

This page was added by Averil Staunton on 03/10/2011.