Saluting Amelia Earhart
Amelia Earhart landed in Ballyarnett Co. Derry some 90 years ago today, the 21st May 2022.
On the morning of May 20 1932, the flight pioneer set off from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland. Earhart intended flying to Paris in her single engine Lockheed Vega 5b to emulate Charles Lindbergh’s solo flight. The flight lasted 14 hours, 56 minutes during which she contended with strong northerly winds, icy conditions and mechanical problems. To cap all this, petrol had started to trickle down her neck. Therefore Earhart made an emergency landing in a pasture at Ballyarnett near the banks of Lough Foyle. Truly, a far cry from her intended landing site of gay Paris!
A farm hand, William McCallion, who’d witnessed the landing asked, “Have you flown far?” Amelia replied crisply “From Newfoundland”. Ballyarnett local Isobel Gallagher recalled “I suspected she’d be hungry, so I got a meal ready for her.” The site was the home of a small museum, the Amelia Earhart Centre. Unfortunately it’s now shut, but efforts are afoot to reopen it. Read up on this fascinating woman before making the pilgrimage here. Amelia Earhart was to be declared dead in absentia on the 5th of January 1937. Another courageous flight ended in mystery when it disappeared without trace.
Find more sites of wonder in the north west
The audio extract in this piece comes from the Donegal’s Hallowed Sites playlist on Spotify. Pedants out there may note we’re into another jurisdiction even if only five fields from Donegal. In light of the fact that the event being honoured, human endeavour and bravery, is far bigger than a border, we’ll let it stand! Besides, it was the sight and markings of County Donegal, not Derry, that gave Amelia her bearings and eventual peace of mind after hours of endless ocean. That counts for a lot in our book!
Shrine 21: when Inishowen became Paris.
Location: 55.037622, -7.302966