"That the Seanad congratulates Major Fitzmaurice and his German comrades on their success in flying the Atlantic Ocean for the first time from East to West in a heavier-than-air machine."
There are no honours in this country for anybody who has conferred distinction on it except two. The first is the freedom of the cities, and the freedom of the City of Dublin is a very great honour. In the last fifty years it has been conferred only about twenty-six times. The other is a far greater distinction and it rests with this House to confer it. All of us remember with pleasure that we had the opportunity of conferring it on Senator Yeats when he showed honour to the country by winning the Nobel Prize.
Major Fitzmaurice has thrown another wreath of fame on this country by flying the North Atlantic for the first time from East to West. The two actions are very widely separated, but in their reactions on the country they are one and the same thing. Comparisons may be odious, but in thirty-six hours it might be said that Major Fitzmaurice brought this country more prominently before the world than the six years during which it has been resented at Geneva. Had he chosen British company his fame had been wider. Had he chosen another engine he might have been more beholden to a certain sporting nation, but he might not have reached his destination. The honours in this country's gift are limited. Major Fitzmaurice cannot be made by our country a colleague of that coloured king, Sir Ofori Atta, or be given a seat in the House of Lords with Lord Terrington, or be given a title like Sir Alfred Mond, but he can be noticed by the Seanad, and it should be put on record that the Seanad of Ireland did for an Irishman what the Senate of France did for the two people who fell into the Atlantic.
The Senate of France tendered their congratulations at an official reception last November in honour of an American airman and Miss Ruth Elder. They did not cross the Atlantic; they fell into it. That has nothing to say to us, but the fact is that Major Fitzmaurice did cross the Atlantic, and Ireland got a great deal of kudos out of it, that it cost us nothing. Nobody came forward to help Major Fitzmaurice in his three years' determination to fly across the Atlantic except that good sportsman, Mr. J.D. Siddely, a member of a big English firm, who offered him three engines, but there was no one came forward with the £2,000 necessary to build an aeroplane. This country is getting immeasurably more value, as I said before, than it got for £60,000 spent in the last six years in Geneva, though the two things are not comparable. Major Fitzmaurice was trying to do this for three years. He was determined to do it with every obstacle against him, and every opportunity that came in his way he availed of it. It was very lucky for both parties that he got the chance of flying with a Junker aeroplane, because, in spite of all the rumours in other countries, Baron von Huenfield said that he never sat behind a finer pilot than Major Fitzmaurice, and, therefore, it confers a certain amount of distinction on the Seanad that it can honour such a man. It would be a mutual honour if we put it on record that we congratulate Major Fitzmaurice, as we already had the honour of congratulating one of our own Senators. I am very pleased to bring this motion forward, and I trust it will get support. I am not making any remarks about the narrow-mindedness that showed itself in one or two directions when this flight was a success, or for not encouraging Major Fitzmaurice. Major Fitzmaurice was the first airman who during the Great War made a night flight across the Channel. He did good work. As Senator O'Farrell remarked, there was in that unprecedented reception of him in Dublin one or two exceptions where it looked as if they were sore, and perhaps jealous or envious.