Valentia Island Lighthouse will be officially open to the public for the first time this June.
The site of the Cromwell Point Lighthouse was originally home to a Cromwell Feetwood Fort believed to have been built in the 16th century which was one of two built on Valentia Island around this time.
The outline of the Cromwell Point fort with its bastions and barack inside its wall can still be easily traced from the air, lying just inside the lighthouse enclosure wall. The fort was maintained after the Restoration and there are various State Paper entries about its repair over the period 1663-1665. It was disestablished in 1669. The first light for Cromwell Point was originally applied for on 30 March 1828 by the Right Honorary Maurice Fitzgerald, Knight of Kerry. Work commenced on the lighthouse ten years later in 1838, the light was first exhibited on 1 February 1841. Since November 1947 the light has been automated.
This tourism project will put this incredible heritage site in the hands of the community with a long term lease to manage the project as a tourist attraction. Initially the public will be offered guided tours into the lighthouse tower and balcony.
A marketing and fundraising plan is being put in place to develop the site over the next couple of years to make this a high quality tourist attraction and it is expected that this will attract 40-50,000 visitors a year to Valentia. Future plans include the conversion of the Lighthouse Keeper’s house as a visitor centre and the development of the archaeological potential at Cromwell Fort.
Brian Morgan from the Valentia Island Development Committee said “The site on Valentia has huge tourism potential and will provide a much needed boost to the local economy”.
“As well as local landowners the Kerry County Council has provided terrific help from the beginning and are strongly supporting this project as a key tourism project for the county” he added.
Cromwell Point Lighthouse is maintained by the Commissioners of Irish Lights and is a harbour light to guide vessels from the sea and lead them through the northern entrance of Valentia Harbour past Harbour Rock.
An official opening of the lighthouse will take place during the June 2 weekend to coincide with the Transatlantic Communications and Light Gathering. One of the other highlights of the weekend will be the attendance of Professor Alexander Gillespie who will discuss the importance of Valentia’s link to the Transatlantic Cable and the opportunity to explore the International heritage significance of the Cable Station.
Professor Gillespie is the first New Zealander to be named Rapporteur for the World Heritage Convention. This is an event that will celebrate the island’s rich heritage with the Transatlantic Cable and communications will be a major theme over the weekend. All three communications elements on the Island; the cable station, the radio station, and the lighthouse will be explored through a series of insightful and interesting lectures.
There will also be the opportunity to take various tours of these significant sites. As well as soaking up the traditional island welcome and some great live music this weekend will afford you the opportunity to mingle in the company of friends old and new.
‘We aim to celebrate with the wider community, to reunite the family descendants’ who were part of that glorious age, and also tell the world that Valentia is ready to once again take its rightful place as a centre for heritage preservation and communications innovation’ said Anthony O’Connell Chairman of the Valentia Island Development Committee.
For more information on this exciting event visit valentiawelcomestheworld.com
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