My late father, William Rogers (1889-1967) working with the Aldritt brothers & John Conroy, in the Aldritt Bros Automotive Workshop in the then Maryborough, assisted in the the manufacture of the Portlaoise Plane, 1st aeroplane to fly in Ireland, as reported by The Kings County Chronicle, 4th November 1909.
The plane, kept in store during the troubled years of 1914-18 War, the Irish War of Independence, the Civil War & the 2WW, was then lost to the town for over 40 years until I, Joe Rogers, in memory of my father, began a search for it, which, in April 2012, led me to a museum in East Sussex, where I found it close to Malcolm Campbell’s Bluebird K3 in which he took the water-speed record in 1937.
I then began my 6 year campaign, with numerous letters to the County Council, The Travel Bureau, newspaper & Ireland’s Own articles, Twitter, Facebook, www.writing.ie, The Laois Historical Society etc. in attempts to have the plane that had put Portlaoise on the map as the birthplace of aviation in Ireland, brought home, restored and put on show.
My efforts went largely unheeded until I read in the Cadogan Guides to Ireland that Portlaoise had nothing to recommend it. I photographed it & sent it to the authority in Laois. Soon after, in 2018 actually, I was contacted for information about the plane and two gentlemen, Alan Phelan & Mr. Fennelly, with help from the Council, I understand, arranged to have the plane brought home and restored and it now awaits a museum in which to exhibit it.
Of course this make take some time so I have suggested that a replica be produced and put on show in the Portlaoise Market Square where people can view and contemplate that the men who made the Portlaoise Plane, they were a special breed, and they carried out their varied tasks, determined to succeed.