17th December

All-island Lighthouse Trail Project

A €2.5m tourism and job creation project lead by the Commissioners of Irish Lights will see key operational lighthouse facilities opened as specialist accommodation and attractions. 

Announcement of Phase 1 was made by Leo Varadkar, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (RoI) and Arlene Foster, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment (NI).

Pat Colgan, SEUPB; Minister Arlene Foster; Minister Simon Coveney and Yvonne Shields, CIL at Blackhead Lighthouse, Co Antrim

Pat Colgan, SEUPB; Minister Arlene Foster; Minister Simon Coveney and Yvonne Shields, CIL at Blackhead Lighthouse, Co Antrim

 The CIL own 75 operating lighthouses around the coast, all of which are now automated and unmanned but continue to play a vital role in marine safety. Lighthouse accommodation is already offered as tourism products and this latest initiative will be part of a new lighthouse tourism sector. 

Historic buildings

Speaking at Blackhead lighthouse, Co Antrim, Minister Foster noted that many of the structures were now historic buildings "that no only stand as reminders of a proud maritme history but also offer significant torusm potential". 

Minister Varadkar said the project was a "very clever way of utilising a precious asset, to grow our tourism industry, create new jobs and provide something truly unique."

Yvonne Shiels, chief executive of the CIL said the project had "huge potential" because in addition to maritime safety services, it allowed the authority to "capitalise on the spectacular location of our lighthouses, harness their huge heritage value and work with local communities in an exciting and innovative way to deliver economic tourism benefits north and south".

Pat Colgan, CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body said the project "has the potential to create long-term economic and employment opportunities for local communities on a cross-border basis."

Phase 1

The EU funded project will see 60 jobs supported during the construction period and a further 10 jobs when the facilities are operational. 

Five sites are invovled in Phase 1, three in Northern Ireland and two in the Republic. These will be added to the exisitng six sites in the Republic and be part of an eventual plan to have up to 20 lighthouses operating as part of the tourist trail. 

Phase 1

  • St John's Point  Lighthouse, Co Donegal
  • Fanad Head Lighthouse, Co Donegal
  • Rathlin West Lighthouse, Rathlin Island
  • Blackhead Lighthouse, Co Antrim
  • St John's Point Lighthouse, Co Down

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