I see one coming!

Long before the Dublin Port Tunnel, the M50 or the N1/M1motorways from Dublin to Belfast were ever dreamed about, my older brothers and I, often spent our Sunday afternoons at Dublin Airport watching the planes arriving and departing.

This involved walking the four miles from our home, out through Santry and the Old Swords road to Collinstown, to the then one cream coloured crescent shaped airport building.  It is still there today, but lost & shrunken into the city of buildings that Dublin International Airport has become.

Once inside we climbed stairs to the open roof (can you imagine that happening today?). Happy as Larry with the wind in our hair, the noise of the aircraft in our ears and the fuel fumes filling our nostrils, we watched all that went on below us. An hour or two later we dandered back another four miles, rosy cheeked and hungry, to do justice to the evening meal that mammy would lay before us.

An afternoon of fun & exercise at no cost other than the wear & tear to our shoe leather.

This wonderful video is what brought the memories flooding back:

21 thoughts on “I see one coming!

  1. Jay from The Depp Effect

    Funny thing – OH tells me that he used to go with one of his aunts to do the same thing, only not in Dublin, because he lived near Epping Forest at the time. I suppose they caught a train to the airport.

    No, you can’t do it now. Some airports do have viewing lounges, but I doubt they’d let random children wander in! Pity.

  2. Grannymar Post author

    Jay – The viewing lounges these days are behind double or triple glazed glass walls and do not have the natural effects of unfiltered wind, fumes or noise. We had great freedom when we were young and I never remember being challenged for going up on the roof. Our parents always knew where we were going and roughly what time we would return.

  3. Rummuser

    Our home is just three kms as the crow flies from the local airport which has both the domestic/international and Indian Air Force runways adjoining each other. We can hear most take offs during certain times of the day and see the IAF planes over head often. For me, it is always fascinating to watch aircraft fly, take off or land. Unfortunately, due to security reasons we are not allowed inside the terminal buildings now a days and have to see off or receive passengers from outside. That is a dampener.

  4. Nancy


    In the late 60’s and through the 1970’s I had a friend whose Mother used to fly from Dublin to Tampa ,Florida to visit a daughter who lived there.

    There was no direct flight in those days so she had to fly from Dublin to JFK in New York and transfer to Eastern Airlines for her flight to Florida.

    We lived,and still do live, in Philadelphia so we were the ones who met her flight at JFK and helped her to the domestic terminal and Eastern Airlines for her trip to Tampa.

    I tell you all this because we had four children who loved to go with us because they allowed you to stand on a rooftop just under the Control Tower and watch the planes, PLUS you could rent headphones and listen to the Air Traffic Controllers talk to the pilots of the planes we were watching.

    My kids thought that was the best way in the World to spend a Saturday. They loved it; especially when we would get to JFK to meet her flight which was due at 3:00 P.M. and when we checked the Arrivals board in the terminal we would find out that the plane had not even left Dublin yet. So we were due for a LOOOOONNNNGGGG wait.

    Not to worry..The planes taking off and landing and the chatter between the controllers and the pilots was fascinating to us so it made the time go by in a hurry.

    I miss those good old days and those good old friends!

  5. Grannymar Post author

    Ramana – I am sure unaccompanied children would not get past security on the doors these days never mind anywhere near a roof. We often watched the planes circling overhead from our garden, as they turned on to the flightpath for descent to the airport.

    Nancy – I can picture your family living every moment of their time on the roof of the airport. We had no earphones, but one of my brothers would give a running commentary of all that was going on. I am not sure if he realised he was speaking aloud.

    Mike – I thought so too, it brought back good memories.

  6. The Laughing Housewife

    My husband used to do the same thing at Manchester Airport. It was called Ringway in those days. He still goes when he feels up to it.

    MA still encourages plane spotters – they see them as extra eyes against terrorists, etc.

  7. Grannymar Post author

    Tilly – I am glad to hear it, though surprised to know that any airport allows people that freedom to go up on an open roof today.

  8. Celia

    My sons and I would take a picnic lunch and go park at the end of the runway at our little local airport and at Seatac in Seattle. Now we’d probably be arrested but those are such fond memories.

  9. Grannymar Post author

    Celia – If daddy came with us, he drove the car around the perimeter back roads and stopped under the flightpath. Now that was too noisy for me and I would stay in the car. The planes were overhead, but very low.

  10. Barbara

    I can’t remember where we were recently, but we had a long wait for our plane and we waited on the rooftop restaurant. Nice to be able to enjoy the last few hours of warm air before returning to the cold of London 🙂

    Peter used to live near Gatwick when he was a teenager and much of his youth was misspent on the viewing balcony. They have a ‘SkyView’ lounge there now, but it’s not open air any more…. Too cold most of the time!!

  11. wisewebwoman

    At Dublin airport, just after the plane landed, I remember handing my baby daughter to my father who was waiting inside the luggage area and he walked away with her to my mother before I even went through customs. Hard to believe in these days of constant insecurity.

    In Toronto I had a special spot on a sideroad under the flight path. It was awesome.

    Thanks for the memories, GM!

  12. Grannymar Post author

    Barbara – I thought your uncles and I were the only ones interested in plane watching. Now I discover Everybody did it 😆 I have not flown for a few years, so I imagine I would see many changes today.

    WWW – Dublin Airport was very relaxed back then. I have yet to find a reason to visit the new terminal, I am sure I would notice a difference.

  13. Dianne

    Such a neat exhibit. Reminds me of the great railway exhibits I have seen. Transportation is so fascinating. Thanks for sharing your memories. Dianne

  14. Maxi

    Four Miles!! It would be near impossible to get kids to walk four blocks today. Unless it was for a free iPad or something similar.

    Sounds as if you had lots of fun back in the day.
    Blessings ~ Maxi

  15. The Old Fossil

    Fantastic! My fascination was with the holes in the sky that the planes flew through. What I couldn’t not figure out precisely was how the plane was suspended on takeoff and landing, but I think that runway must have had wires running its length and through the holes. Then, the planes were transferred from their earlier track to be attached somewhat like a San Francisco Cable Car attaches below the street level. Pull the plane forward from there and lift the wire for takeoff. Deliver the plane with the wire on landing and it detaches from the “cable” at the end of the runway.

    Ah, you also managed (obviously) to bring back my passion for models and this is one of the best I’ve ever seen. Bravo!

  16. Grannymar Post author

    Dianne – I thought it was terrific and it brought back some great memories of from years ago with my brothers.

    Maxi – Four miles out and four miles back, I’m sure we had no trouble sleeping after that!

    Fossie – How is your German? This one lets you see how it was all made: http://youtu.be/LGEFyi3xvik I so want to go to Hamburg Airport.

  17. Grannymar Post author

    Chrisb – Welcome back, I hope all is well in your corner. I agree that the walk to the boarding gate feels like you are trekking half way across the Irish sea. 🙁


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