BY HELEN RIDDELL
THIS week was the Bere Island Projects Group open phase one of their restoration of Lonehort Battery, a WWI fortification on the eastern end of Bere Island.
Lonehort Battery was the largest and most strategic of seven gun batteries which were constructed on the island by the British Admiralty in the early 1900s.
The battery housed two 6” guns and one 9” gun along with ammunition stores, barracks and watchtowers with high-powered searchlights.
A 15-ft dry-moat surrounded the fort, accessed by a small iron bridge. The gun batteries on the island were built by the British Admiralty to protect their fleet when it lay at anchor in Berehaven harbour.
At one time it was estimated that when the British fleet dropped anchor in the harbour, the local population was increased by 13,000 men.
Bere Island Projects Group (BIPG) realised the potential of developing Lonehort Battery as a visitor attraction, and when in 2003 the Bere Island Conservation Plan was drawn up by BIPG and the Heritage Council, one of the key objectives was to restore the battery, which is currently owned by the Department of Defence.
Eugene Glendon, chair of BIPG, believes it represents huge potential for Bere Island.
‘Lonehort Battery is an amazing site and must be viewed in the context of there being up to 1,000 British soldiers manning the fort during WWI. If you close your eyes while standing next to the 6” guns, you can hear the British soldiers marching in the background, waiting nervously for the Germans to arrive into Bantry Bay, which fortunately never happened. Lonehort Battery is preserved as a moment in time, not replicated anywhere in the Republic and must be seen to be fully appreciated.’
Lonehort Battery was officially opened on Friday June 14th by Islands Minister Sean Kyne.