No. 153 NAI DFA Unregistered Papers

Memorandum prepared for the Imperial Conference by J.J. Walsh
on the attitude of the Irish Free State to civil and commercial aviation

DUBLIN, 31 October 1923

In so far as the general question of civil aviation is concerned, the Irish Administration is prepared to co-operate in any proposals which may be made in order to facilitate Air Services, commercial or postal, and it is believed that the Irish Government would be prepared to bear its share of any expenditure necessitated by a common scheme.

Ireland, however, is very particularly interested in the development of air traffic between America and Europe, and as its ports are the nearest in Europe to America, it is thought that it is in a position to facilitate air communications generally, and in particular the transit of mails.

We are yet only at the beginning of aerial transport, but it is evident that even at the present stage of aerial development transport by aeroplane, where this is practicable is a great deal quicker than transport by sea or land, and that, in the case of mails from and to America there would be an immense gain in time if all the outgoing mails were sent by aeroplane to the farthest out land port in Europe and the incoming mails taken off by aeroplane at that port.

That port is either Galway or Queenstown.

At present American Mails incoming to Great Britain and a considerable proportion of those for Ireland, are landed at Liverpool, Plymouth or Southampton. In point of time Galway and Queenstown offer appreciable advantages over these ports. The respective distances are as follows:-

  To New York To St. John's
  Miles Miles
Galway 2800 1705
Queenstown 2815 1730
Liverpool 3050 1930
Plymouth 2980 1870
Southampton 3100 2002

If the average speed of the mail boats be taken as 20 miles an hour - which is probably on the high side as only the very fast boats will maintain that average - we find that:

Queenstown is 13 Hours nearer N.Y. than Liverpool & 10 hrs. nearer St John's
" 9 do do   Plymouth " 7 do do
" 15 do do   Southampton " 14 do do

while Galway is an hour nearer. If then, the principle of taking off mails at the nearest land port is a good one, that port should be Galway or Queenstown, and the Irish Administration favour Queenstown as being the more convenient of the two ports. The time occupied in aerial transport from Queenstown to London would be slightly more than that occupied from Liverpool, Plymouth or Southampton, but not appreciably, and it is evident that the adoption of the principle of sending mails to and from the nearest land port by aeroplane would result in a general acceleration of approximately one day to correspondence for Great Britain and the Continent and more than that in the case of Irish correspondence generally. It has been agreed that first steamers picking-up mails off St Johns could land them at Queenstown within three and half days and by the use of Air transit between New York and the former point the distance from New York to London should be covered in four days. If seaplanes were used the mails could be taken directly from the ship, which could be met when in sight of port, and a material further acceleration would thereby be effected.

In putting this suggestion forward, the Irish Administration desires again to emphasize the fact that it is prepared to facilitate in any way in its power the general object in view.

It should be stated that a big aerodrome is situated within a dozen miles from Queenstown. This would be ready for use within a brief period.

sd. J.J. WALSH
Postmaster General,
Irish Free State

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