Do unidentified flying objects exist, or can alleged sightings be easily explained?

Accounts given by members of the public and an Aer Lingus pilot lay claim to the existence of unidentified flying objects (UFOs); strange objects in the sky that cannot be explained in the ordinary way.

It seems County Kildare is UFO territory with exceptional numbers of alleged sightings.

Kildare resident Martin McGuinness believes he witnessed a UFO which left behind a large crater in a nearby field. An Irish UFO investigation team declare the hollow,

A perfectly symmetrical oval mark devoid of growth, a phenomenon unknown to science.

Local farmer Johnny Nevin disagrees, describing the crater as,

Just an ordinary cattle track, where cattle gather in the summertime.

While Johnny Nevin agrees the shape could have been made by a UFO, he thinks it was more likely to have been created by cows.

The most spectacular alleged UFO sighting took place in Newbridge , County Kildare. In July 1976, 15 year old Michael MacDiarmada took pictures of a strange flying object while photographing his friend Christy Hannon.

Dunsink Observatory director Professor Patrick Wayman has a scientist's caution about life in other parts of the galaxy. However he meets with Michael MacDiarmada and Christy Hannon at the place where their alleged sighting took place. The pair re-enact events as they happened on the day. The British UFO Association have declared the duo’s story a hoax. Professor Wayman will not give his opinion until he has fully examined the sequence of photographs.

Established in 1976, the Irish Unidentified Flying Object Research Centre (IUFORC) is a merger of the groups Sky-Skan and Contact. This select group carries out investigations into reports of UFOs and conducts research when time permits.

One IUFORC member feels people are too quick to deny the existence of UFOs,

They just don’t want to know, they’re just very small minded people who obviously don’t know what’s going on around them who never read anything at all so you know all you can do is feel sorry for people like that.

IUFORC secretary Owen McQuail does not understand UFOs, but he believes in their existence. He also believes science fiction writer Otto Binder’s account of multiple UFOs sighted during the Apollo 11 lunar mission.

Allen Lawler is chairman of the IUFORC and also chairman of a branch of the Irish Railway Preservation Society. From the UFO Centre housed in his back garden at Priory Road in Dublin’s Harold’s Cross, members of the IUFORC listen in on Airband radio to Dublin Airport air traffic control. They live in hope of hearing the words,

Reporting an Unidentified Flying Object.

Deputy chief control officer at Dublin Airport Frank Finnegan admits two to three percent of UFO sightings worldwide remain unexplained and there are very few sightings in Dublin. Such incidents are usually explained as,

Aircraft, met balloons, meteorites, space debris, military search and rescue missions and such matter.

A 'Newsround’ report broadcast on 4 December 1977. The reporter is Jim Fahy.