16th July

Great Lighthouses of Ireland open their doors to toursim

A ‘new experience to take your breath away’ – that’s the promise from Great Lighthouses of Ireland – an EU-funded tourism initiative featuring twelve lighthouses around the entire coastline of Ireland.

Great Lighthouse of Ireland Loop Head

Loop Head, Co Clare. Photos Stephen Emerson

Launching the project, Pascal Donohoe, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, said Ireland's maritime heritage was a great source of pride:

“The Great Lighthouses of Ireland initiative is a unique and exciting collaboration between many people and organisations, each with different and specialist skills who have come together to create something exceptional.”

And while advances in technology and automation require less physical infrastructure, “providing safe navigation will remain paramount and foremost in our operations,” remarked David Delemar, chairman of the Commissioner of Irish Lights.

Seven of the twelve properties have existing or proposed accommodation while others are visitor attractions, offering unique experiences and an understanding of the role of lighthouses through time as a backdrop to local maritime and seafaring history.

“Through Great Lighthouses of Ireland we have brought together a group of people who are deeply rooted in our coastal communities and are hugely committed to our lighthouse heritage,” remarked Yvonne Shields, CIL chief executive.

“The project presents an opportunity to protect the future of a subset of historic maritime properties by developing alternative uses that will benefit visitors, support tourism and create employment and enterprise opportunities in local coastal communities,” she added.

New wave of visitors

CIL secured €2.5m in funding under the EU INTERREG 1VA for Phase 1 of the All-Islands Lighthouse Project, comprising a cross-border development of properties at St John’s Point (Donegal); Fanad Head (Rathlin West) Blackhead (Antrim) and St John’s Point (Down).

“I am confident this project will attract a new wave of domestic and overseas tourists and will have long-term positive impacts on the local economy on both sides of the border,” remarked Lorraine McCourt, director of Special EU Programmes Body (SEUBP).

The project is supported by Fáilte Ireland, Tourism Northern Ireland and Tourism Ireland, and is partnered with the Irish Landmark Trust; the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds; Forbairt Fhanada Teoranta; Hook Heritage Ltd; Clare County Council, Ballycotton Lighthouse Tours; Mid & East Antrim Borough Council; Valentia Island Development Co and Clare Island Lighthouse.

Further information on the Great Lighthouses of Ireland: http://www.cil.ie/tourism/great-lighthouses-of-ireland.aspx

Great Lighthouses of Ireland

Co Donegal: Fanad Head & St John’s Point

Co Antrim: Rathlin West Light Seabird Centre Black Head

Co Down: St John’s Point

Co Wicklow: Wicklow Head

Co Wexford Hook

Co Cork: Ballycotton Galley Head

Co Kerry: Valentia

Co Clare: Loop Head

Co Mayo: Clare Island

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