A sign dating from World War II has been uncovered and restored on a cliffside in Dalkey, south Dublin.

The ÉIRE sign, which is one of more than 80 built along the coastline to alert pilots to neutral territory, was uncovered following research involving members of the Dalkey Tidy Towns Committee.

It is the first time such a sign has been studied and restored to its wartime condition. A number of similar signs were uncovered in recent years following fires, including on nearby Bray Head.

Lookout posts dotted around the coast were manned 24-7 during WW II and one was located around half a kilometre from Hawk Cliff in Dalkey.

"The guys who manned the lookouts were always told to find a field and build a sign so there had to be one in this area. We stuck a rod in the ground and hit stone." explained Des Burke-Kennedy of Dalkey Tidy Towns.

"We started with the letter 'R' and very soon we could see the shape emerging."

A team of up to 35 volunteers met once a week for almost six months, painstakingly clearing the site, lifting and cleaning 100 tonnes of stones, before laying weed killer and returning them.

Roadstone supplied four tonnes of a binding agent which was added to the stones to prevent their removal.

"We thought we were finished then, but we still had to paint the stones," Des said.

"We contacted a company called Sika. They make paint for lighthouses - that has to be good enough for us."

Another mammoth community effort ensued to paint the 20ft letters which now shine bright on the Dalkey coastline.

"It's lucky we don't live in Switzerland," he laughs.

The Dalkey sign is one of only five still visible from the air.

"They are part of Ireland's contemporary history but very few of these signs survived," explained Michael Kennedy, historian with the Royal Irish Academy.

Many were removed by farmers once the war was over and stones were used to build walls. Other disappeared into the sea from coastal erosion.

"This is a national monument - although it wouldn't be covered by the act," Michael said.

"There are very few veterans from the Defence Forces during the war still alive and this is a testimony to the service that they gave. It is significant that we have such an intact sign here in Dalkey."