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A priceless American flag presented to an Irish pilot after he became the first pilot to complete an east-west transatlantic flight was given to his native Laois nearly 100 years after the historic feat.

Colonel James Fitzmaurice became the first pilot to cross the Atlantic Ocean from east to west when he landed in Canada in April 1928.

Fitzmaurice and his German co-pilots took off from Baldonnel military airfield on April 12 before landing atop an icy tank on Greenly Island in Canada a day later.

The men were then paraded through several American cities and presented with an American flag consisting of 48 stars, as Hawaii and Alaska had not yet joined the union.

B. Ross MacMahon, who eventually acquired the flag through a family connection to Fitzmaurice, now returns the artifact to the Irish county where the aviator spent his childhood.

“The Laois cherish Ireland’s aerial heritage and the flag should rightfully belong to them,” MacMahon said in a statement.

“One of the first aircraft to fly in Ireland was built by the Aldritt brothers in their motor garage with the help of carpenter John Conroy and mechanic William Rogers. It was to inspire young James Fitzmaurice, who first won his enthusiasm thanks to the kindness of those people in the garage.I am delighted to add to the treasure trove of aviation artifacts already in Portlaoise by officially presenting this flag to Laois County Council.

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The flag will be officially presented to Laois County Council at a ceremony at the Midlands Park Hotel in Portlaoise on Saturday August 20 at 3pm BST.

Local Fitzmaurice expert Teddy Fennelly will also deliver a lecture on the airman’s time in the United States at the ceremony.

The ceremony will also include the launch of the Fitzmaurice Archive, a digital collection of newspapers and other documents relating to the historic flight.

All are invited to attend the ceremony which will mark Heritage Week in County Laois.