Former RTE newsreader and lighthouse enthusiast, Anne Doyle was in West Clare today where she joined Councillor John Crowe, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, in launching Loop Head Lighthouse’s 2015 tourist season.
The historic landmark commenced its 5th year of operations when it reopened to the public on 03 April last. Clare County Council, which manages Loop Head Lighthouse in conjunction with the Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL), says the facility will remain open daily (10am-6pm) until 4th October 2015.
Anne Doyle has been captivated by lighthouses since her childhood in Ferns, County Wexford, where she grew up observing the sweeping lights of the Tuskar Rock Lighthouse.
“Ireland’s lighthouses hold so much history and are located in some of Western Europe’s most scenic settings. Loop Head is no exception and the location of the lighthouse on the tip of the majestic Loop Head Peninsula and at the mouth of the Shannon Estuary makes it extra special,” said Ms. Doyle.
Commenting on the launch of the 2015 visitor season, Councillor John Crowe said: “The 19th century West Clare landmark will be looking to capitalise on its designation as a Signature Discovery Point on the Wild Atlantic Way and further promote the economic development of the Loop Head Peninsula.”
“Visitor numbers at the lighthouse have continued grow year on year since it was first opened to the public in 2011. During this time the lighthouse has delivered a major boost to economic activity in the wider area and I am confident it will further build on this in the months and years ahead,” he added.
Loop Head Lighthouse is steeped in history and rich in maritime heritage with its origins dating back to the 1670s. The existing tower style lighthouse was constructed in 1854 and was operated and maintained by a keeper who lived within the lighthouse compound. Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s grandfather was a keeper at the lighthouse. James John McGinley took up duty at the Lighthouse as Principal Keeper on 16th January 1933. He spent 1 year and 10 months at Loop Head. He was transferred from the station in October 1934.
Located to the rear of the lighthouse is an Éire sign etched into the headland, which was used to alert passing Allied aircrews that they were passing over neutral Ireland during World War Two.
In January 1991, the lighthouse was converted to automatic operation, and today is in the care of an attendant and is also monitored by the CIL.