The oddest UFO encounter by far occurred on Friday, September 7, 1956, at Moneymore, County Derry, Londonderry.
At midday that day, a mystery item dropped from the sky and landed near Thomas and Maud Hutchinson’s home. The thing was egg-shaped with a saucer-shaped base; three feet tall and 18 inches in diameter; and crimson, with dark red stripes and dark red markings at either end.
It looked to be constructed of canvas. The item was originally stationary – with the exception of righting itself after Thomas kicked it over – but after a while, it began to spin on the ground.
Thomas seized the spinning item and planned to take it to the local Loup police station. However, the item fled after a brief wrestling struggle.
“Then the monster rose, and it nearly knocked my husband off his feet as he tried to restrain it,” Maud told reporters. “I began to panic, so I hurried home and prayed.”
The mystery item then vanished from view.
The encounter was widely reported and attracted widespread attention, notably in the United States, where one publication declared, “To witness a flying saucer is no longer rare.” There have been those who claim to have ridden in them and conversed with their inhabitants. But for wrestlers, even if the bout is a loss, this is a novel twist.”
The authorities, on the other hand, were not as enthusiastic. An officer at RAF Aldergrove was “near confident” the item was a weather balloon. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) – Northern Ireland’s police force – agreed with this assessment.
It wasn’t the first time. When 15-year-old Leo Penrose witnessed an object land in a field outside the hamlet on February 16, 1955, stories of a flying saucer landing circulated swiftly in Ballinacargy, County Westmeath.
The Gardai – the Irish police – swiftly determined that the item in the field was simply a weather balloon on that day.
A news item from September 1956 explains the happenings at Moneymore.
No one could explain the Moneymore weather balloon’s spinning motion or speed of departure, and no one could pinpoint where the balloon had come from. And there appeared to be considerable dissension within the RAF and the RUC.
The item did not belong to the RAF, according to an officer questioned by the Grimsby Evening Telegraph, and he couldn’t “even hazard a guess” as to what it may have been.
And the desk sergeant at Thomas and Maud’s neighborhood police station found it difficult to believe Thomas had been duped by a weather balloon.
“Thomas Hutchinson is a calm, God-fearing man,” he remarked. “He’s not the type of man who would think he seized a flying saucer if he didn’t have one.”
This phase of UFO activity in Ireland came to an end with the Moneymore event. Others would follow, but this was the first. While much of what was described was easily explained, a few puzzles remained.