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Killiney History | January 30, 2023

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Tragic plane crash in Killiney Bay on 15th July 1955

Tragic plane crash in Killiney Bay on 15th July 1955
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2022 | author

A fatal air crash occurred in Killiney Bay on the 15th July 1955.

The piece below was brought to our attention by Anthony Deegan, Glenalua Road. It is an extract from ‘Sit Down, Guard!’ by Eamonn Gunn. (There are a number of inaccuracies in the piece but it gives an overall picture of the event which unfolded. One individual was killed, not two, and it took place in July)

It was August and we were having one of those rare, fine summers. The weather had been very warm for weeks, and crowds were flocking to the beaches. As quickly as possible we made the journey through the dense holiday traffic to Killiney, where the beach was packed with day-trippers. On arrival, I was at once aware of the crowd of onlookers near the water’s edge. They were agog at the sight of an elderly, very distressed woman attempting to wade seawards in the shallow waters to reach a small aeroplane which was half submerged some hundred yards off shore.

The small biplane had apparently got into difficulties while flying over Killiney Bay and had crash-landed into the sea, killing both occupants. I discovered that one of the victims was this poor woman’s only son. She presented a most pitiful sight: up to her waist in water and overwhelmed with grief, while the distressing scene was sullied by the presence of a swarm of onlookers. I was incensed at the distasteful spectacle of the gaping crowd insensitively staring at this broken- hearted mother whose distress, so clearly obvious to all, was being turned into a gigantic open-air peepshow.

The sculptor Laurence Campbell with a bust of Frank Beatty who died in the accident, a friend of his.

Feeling deeply for the unfortunate woman, I appealed to the faceless crowd to show some compassion and disperse. I firmly escorted her out of the water and back to the waiting police car so that she might be spared the trauma of seeing her son’s body being taken from the sea. Sometimes you were torn between the importance of doing your duty and a dread of being unkind or officious!

Further investigation suggests the victim was Frank Beatty, a barrister, called to the bar in 1947 and working on the Meath and Westmeath circuits in the early 1950s. He had been learning to fly in a two-seater plane. The plane lost power off the coast at Killiney and plunged into the sea, killing Beatty and injuring the pilot, a friend of his.

The photograph below was taken by Michael Hill and it shows the recovered aircraft on the beach beside Homan’s White Cottage. Michael was a young boy at the time the photo was taken using his mother’s box camera 620.

Photo courtesy of Michael Hill

Barrister Killed in Plane Crash -Donegal Pilot Escapes (Derry Journal 18 July 1955)

While hundreds of people on the beach at Killiney, Co. Dublin, watched a low-flying plane, it crashed into the sea 200 yards from the shore, killing one man and injuring another.

The dead man is Mr. Francis Beatty (29). barrister-at-law. 26 Pembroke Road, Ballsbridge. Dublin, who was a passenger in the plane and the injured man is Mr. Enda MacLochlainn. 25 Strand Road, Sandymount, Dublin, who was the pilot.

Mr. MacLochlainn was thrown clear when the plane hit the water and he was rescued by people in pleasure boats who rowed towards the wreckage. which sank within a few minutes. He is a son of Mr. Sean D. MacLochlainn, Donegal County Manager, and Mrs. MacLochlainn.

The plane, a Tiger Moth from Weston Airport, Leixlip, crashed, according to eye-witnesses, while the pilot was attempting to climb.

The first to reach the scene was a boat rowed by two people on holiday from Liverpool. Mr. Ronald Windsor and Miss Brenda Kane. Miss Kane said: We were rowing along in the boat when a plane flew very low over us. It crashed into the water very close to where we were and there was an explosion as it hit the water. We rowed towards it and we saw a man in the water beside the tail of the plane. He had blood on his face and we tried to get him into the boat but he was too heavy. He kept saying: ‘There is a man in the front seat’. He appeared to be very dazed and he asked ‘How long have I been in the water?’ We told him that he had been in the water only a few minutes and we kept him afloat until another boat arrived.

Mr. MacLochlainn was taken to St. Michael’s Hospital Dun Laoghaire. where it was stated later that his injuries were not serious.

Many people on the beach expressed the opinion that the pilot had been in trouble and had intended to land on the beach, but when he saw how crowded it was, he turned out to sea. It was stated at Weston Airport that Mr. MacLochlainn was not a member of the Aero Club of Ireland. but that he had held an Irish pilot’s licence for the past few years and occasionally flew from Leixlip. It was believed that he had learned to fly while in England.

Mr. Beatty was the only son of District Justice Cyril Beatty and Mrs. Beatty.

Irish Times 23 July 1955
Belfast Telegraph 16 July 1955
Dublin Evening Mail 22 July 1955

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