Things taking off again at Ardboe Aerodrome

Ardboe aerodrome
Ardboe aerodrome

It’s always said that ‘three score years and ten’ make up a human life-span.

Well, if that’s the case then a full life-span was rolled back on the shores of Lough Neagh last Saturday as two local groups, Muintirevlin Historical Society and the Friends of the Somme Mid-Ulster Branch re-visited the World War II life and times of ‘Ardboe Aerodrome’.

What added real colour and nostalgia to the proceedings was the presence of a number of US Army World War II military vehicles. Seventy years ago 3,500 US personnel were based at Ardboe and last Saturday brought the sights and sounds of those days back to vigorous, spectacular life.

“This was an important event for us” Dessie Gordon of the Friends of the Somme Mid-Ulster Branch explained.

“Ardboe Aerodrome is a place of great significance and a lot of what was put there during the War remains in surprisingly good condition. It’s important that as the generations move on we recognise and understand what went on there.

“On Saturday we were also able to appreciate some of the full historical significance of Ardboe overall and of course made sure we included the Ardboe High Cross and graveyard in our itinerary.”

Saturday’s event was part of a weekend ‘From Over Here to Overlord’ programme put together by the Friends of the Somme. Funded by the SW PEACE III Partnership’s In Our Own Hands Programme, Saturday’s activities also involved the Muintirevlin Historical Society.

“We had nearly 100 people involved in our wee ‘coming together’” Muintirevlin’s Rose Ryan continued.

“The Aerodrome is a bit of a hidden jewel but it’s one we’re very precious about and we think it’s important more and more people should be aware of its story and come and look at the buildings and runways that are still left here.”

Fried eels and traditional home-baking were provided for the visitors at Coyle’s Cottage, putting a real Lough Shore stamp on what was a very significant and powerful event.