Co Sligo village at standstill as Boeing 737 arrives by barge
A VILLAGE was brought to a standstill at the weekend as a sea barge carrying a Boeing 767 jet made its way up the west coast of Ireland.
The plane left Shannon Airport on Thursday by barge and arrived at Enniscrone on Saturday.
The jet, 159 feet long and weighing more than 70 tonnes, is to form the centrepiece of a 'glamping site' in the village, where it will be used for accommodation for guests.
Enniscrone came to a standstill as thousands of people watched the plane arrive, where it was lifted on to a trailer by crane before travelling by road to the campsite.
Timber mats were laid on the sand for a truck and trailer to get across the beach to the barge.
It is the brainchild of funeral director and businessman David McGowan, who bought the jet from Russian airline Transaero for €20,000.
The 29-year-old plane was flown by Transaero, which filed for bankruptcy last year, to locations across the globe out of Moscow and St Petersburg.
Prior to its safe arrival in Co Sligo, Mr McGowan told RTÉ: "If I don't land it, I'll be known as the biggest eejit in the country."
In addition to the Boeing 767, the entrepreneur already has several old London taxis, a marina, old Tube carriages, and a double decker bus to be converted into accommodation.
Based on a 15-acre site close to Enniscrone beach, Mr McGowan hopes to open to guests later this year, with plans for a shopping forecourt and restaurant.
He claims his idea will create 40 new jobs and told the Sligo Champion last year that the project would "put Sligo on the world tourist map".
The Sligo man has overcome several major setbacks in planning to move the Boeing 767, including the jet being confiscated by the airline’s receivers and birds deciding to nest in the plane as it was parked in Shannon.
Shannon Airport authorities requested the plane’s destruction on health and safety grounds due to the birds.
He said: "We had to hire some bird experts to put the case to the Shannon authorities that the bird nesting season was all over so thankfully they gave us a reprieve."
Local authorities in the west of Ireland refused him permission to circumvent problematic bridges, in the scenario of travelling by road, by using cranes.
He said: "I had to convince Sligo County Council that I didn't need psychiatric help. Now I'm making the concept a reality."