A lighthouse has been located on the Loop Head peninsula since the 1670s, when a signal fire lit the way for incoming ships from the roof of the single-story cottage of the lighthouse keeper. Visitors can still see the original cottage and an exhibition on the history of Irish Lighthouses on the grounds of the present lighthouse.
The current tower was constructed in 1854 and was operated and maintained by the lighthouse keeper, who resided within the compound. It stands over 75 feet tall and offers a range of light of 23 nautical miles. This specific lighthouse is characterized by a white light flashing four times in 20 seconds. The operation of the light was converted to electricity in 1871 and has been automated since 1991.
The lighthouse, managed by Clare County Council in conjunction with the Commissioners of Irish Light (CIL), first opened to the public five years ago. It has become a major visitor attraction in the county and, looking at these pictures, we can see the reason why thousands follow the light to Loop Head every year.
Situated at the mouth of the Shannon estuary in west County Clare, the 19th century lighthouse offers a guided tour up the tower and onto the balcony. From here, weather permitting of course, the tower presents the perfect picturesque view along the Wild Atlantic Way, stretching as far as the Blasket Islands to the south and and the Twelve Pins in Connemara to the north.
The Loop Head peninsula itself, the most westerly point in County Clare, is a part of Ireland that epitomizes the essence of the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s finest coastal scenery. The peninsula would, in fact, be an island if it weren’t for a one-mile sliver of land connecting the area to the rest of Clare. Loop Head offers panoramic cliff views overlooking the Atlantic, good seafood, beautiful quiet spots to relax and rewind for those looking to get away and an abundance of aquatic activities for the more adventurous.
Gerard Dollard, Director of Services, Tourism & Community, Clare County Council, says of the lighthouse, “2014, which was the lighthouse's fourth year of operation as a visitor attraction, saw visitor figures buoyed by the development of new services at Shannon Airport, favorable weather conditions and the launch of the Wild Atlantic Way.”
As a Signature Discover Point on the Wild Atlantic Way, the lighthouse hopes to attract further visitors to this spectacular part of the country. During its six-month opening period in 2014, it recorded a massive 20,368 visitors and hopes to exceed this figure in summer 2015 as the beauty of the west attracts not just international tourists but Irish tourists also.
“We are confident that its status as one of Clare’s most popular visitor attractions as well as a Signature Discovery Point on the Wild Atlantic Way will garner further interest from domestic and international visitors alike,” Dollard continues, “Over its five years of operation the lighthouse project has been a major boost to economic activity in the wider area and we would hope to further build on this.”
A massive 61 percent of the total visitor figure in 2014 were Irish tourists with North America, the United Kingdom and Germany each clocking in 8 percent of the visitor total.
Loop Head lighthouse will remain open daily from 10am-6pm from April 2 until October 4, 2015. Due to the high number of people expected, visitors are advised to expect a wait at weekends during high season. Admission to the tour and exhibition is priced at: Adults $5.40 (€5), Children $2.20 (€2), Family Ticket (2 adults and up to 3 children) $13 (€12). More information can be found at www.loophead.ie.