Brought to the surface by the flames, the large white block letters etched into the scorched ground, reading Éire, were discovered by the Garda (Irish police) Air Support Unit as they flew over Bray Head, Country Wicklow following the fire.
The word Éire translates as “Ireland” in Gaelic. The sign’s purpose was to alert both allied and German bombers that they were in flight above Ireland, a neutral country. The Bray’s Head discovery is one of over 80 similar whitewashed signs carved into the ground across the country during the war. The Éire landmarks were also numbered as lookout posts. The Bray sign was number eight according to a tweet from the Irish Defence Forces.
Although some of the country’s Éire signs have remained in plain sight since the war, the one atop Bray’s Head was entirely covered by undergrowth and thus invisible to the eye until the blaze on 2 August. Although the É is not as clear as the rest of the letters, it is otherwise in decent condition.
A spokesperson explained to Irish broadcaster RTE that “The signs themselves are quite common on the west coast but unusual on the east.” Thus the discovery is an exciting one.
The summer’s heatwave has exposed a number of previously hidden sights including the outline of a 17th-century garden at Chatsworth House and a previously undiscovered henge in County Meath dating back to the early Bronze Age.