By Siobhán Cronin
THE lighthouse at Galley Head near Clonakilty has been named in the Irish tourism initiative ‘Great Lighthouses of Ireland’.
Just two Cork lighthouses make the grade – the second is in East Cork, in Ballycotton.
The EU-funded tourism initiative was launched recently by Tourism Minister Paschal Donohoe TD and the Commissioners of Irish Lights.
As part of the Irish Landmark Trust offering, guests have been able to rent accommodation at the Galley Head Lightkeeper’s houses for several years, but this new scheme means the lighthosue is one of just twelve going under the banner of the ‘Great Lighthouses of Ireland’ to offer visitors unforgettable experiences and create ‘a deep appreciation of the role of lighthouses, past and present’, and in the maritime and seafaring story of the island of Ireland.
Galley Head Lighthouse rises an imposing 53m above the roaring Atlantic ocean, close to Clonakilty.
When this lighthouse was first constructed, it was the most powerful lighthouse light in the world.
Its lightkeepers would have witnessed the loss of the Lusitania in 1915 and sighted many British and German vessels during World War I and II. The Irish Landmark Trust restored the two lightkeepers’ houses, which offer self-catering accommodation with a difference.
It’s the perfect base to pursue a wide range of activities, from dolphin and whale watching, to surfing at nearby Inchydoney’s Blue Flag beach.
Launching the initiative, the Minister said: ‘Our island’s maritime heritage is a source of pride to us all. This initiative allows us to celebrate and share this with our visitors and with each other. The Great Lighthouses of Ireland 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. I am particularly pleased that this experience has been developed to build on the momentum of the Wild Atlantic Way.’
With a range of services from accommodation to visitor centres and guided tours, visitors from home and abroad will have the chance to explore the distinct experiences offered by the 12 lighthouses, each reflecting its own history and heritage, nature and environment, people and place, with aspects to appeal to people of all ages and interests. The other ‘Great Lighthouses of Ireland’ include the Hook in Wexford and Loop Head in Co Clare.
The project is supported by the European Union’s INTERREG IVA cross-border Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUBP).
Irish Lights today operate over seventy automated lighthouses around the coast of Ireland, all of which continue to play a vital role in maritime safety.
‘Great Lighthouses of Ireland’ partners include the Commissioners of Irish Lights, the Irish Landmark Trust and Clare County Council. Great Lighthouses of Ireland is also supported by Fáilte Ireland, Tourism Northern Ireland and Tourism Ireland.
For more, see www.greatlighthouses.com.