An online auction will be held to raise funds for the restoration and preservation of the Valentia Cable Station on Valentia Island off the coast of Co. Kerry, where the first-ever transatlantic telegraph message was transmitted.

Europe and North America were connected for the first time in 1858 via a 3,000km undersea transatlantic telegraph cable, upon which the first-ever message was sent from Valentia Island to Trinity Bay in Newfoundland.

It was a note of congratulations from Queen Victoria to President Buchanan of the United States, expressing a hope that the cable would build "an additional link between the nations whose friendship is founded on their common interest and reciprocal esteem."

The 98-word message took 16 hours to transmit and the President’s response of 143 words was sent in just 10 hours.

In July 1866, a permanent connection was established between Valentia and Heart's Content in Newfoundland.

The cable reduced communication times from weeks to minutes - a revolutionary achievement now considered the 19th-century equivalent of putting a man on the moon.

The Valencia station, the first of its kind in the world and the point at which modern globalization began served as the communications hub across the Atlantic through the 1960s.

In July 2022, the Valencia Transatlantic Cable Project was added to the Ireland Tentative list, which is a key milestone on the UNESCO World Heritage Site journey.

The Valentia Island Transatlantic Cable Foundation has now launched a fundraising campaign to restore and preserve the historic cable station. The project will also see the addition of an exhibit and museum on the ground floor and a digital hub on the upper floors of the building.

"Encouraged by the decision of the Irish government to include the Valentia Transatlantic Cable project as only one of three projects on the Ireland Tentative list for UNESCO inscription, we are now focusing on the restoration of the related historic sites, with our priority being the refurbishment of the Cable Station at Knightstown and its plans to be both an inspiring exhibit and museum for this epic story, and also a place to inspire a new generation of technologists and entrepreneurs in a bespoke digital hub," said Leonard Hobbs, Chair of the Valentia Transatlantic Cable Foundation. 

"This incredible place earned its place in history as the birthplace of global telecommunications. It has a fascinating story that we want to share with the world and uniquely is set to increasingly be part of the community’s future with its new digital hub.

"We’re calling on the people of Kerry, the province, the country and the world to help us celebrate and preserve this special site that played a global role and shaped the earliest days of communication technology.

"The auction has something for everyone so, we’re looking forward to full participation and an exciting opportunity for people at home and away to show their appreciation for the Valentia Transatlantic Cable project.”

The auction website is now open for bids with auction items ranging from exclusive hotel accommodations and private whiskey tastings to sporting events tickets and other unique items. 

Bids will be taken up to July 28th during the annual Valentia Lecture event at the Cable Station, which this year will discuss the theme “A vision for Ireland and its place in a digital world."

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