At 7:50pm on Thursday, 20 May 1909, the “mysterious airship” was seen over Donnybrook, a district of Dublin.
One of the witnesses was Mrs Pilkington of Anglesey Road, who watched the airship from her bedroom window. According to Mrs Pilkington, the airship, which was at a “considerable altitude,” resembled a “large oblong shell” and was travelling, at speed, due east.
When her son went into Donnybrook village later that day, he found that many others had seen the same object at the same time as his mother. In fact, “the matter was the talk of the village,” according to an Irish Times reporter.
Two other witnesses, William Keenan and Michael Connor, described the airship as football-shaped and dark in appearance. Initially, they thought it was an ordinary balloon, but its fast speed on a still night convinced them that it must be a device “propelled by mechanical aid.”
When Keenan and Connor pointed out the airship to passers-by, there was broad agreement that it had to be a powered device of some type.
While there were many witnesses to this event, an earlier incident that day had an audience of one. At 1:30am, while cycling into Dublin from Kingstown, a reporter for the Evening Telegraph saw an airship “illuminated by two strong lights” travelling in a south-westerly direction.
The Irish Times, 21 May 1909