Fanad Lighthouse marks its 200th anniversary. Photo Brian McDaid
The Fanad community gathered on Friday to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the iconic Fanad Lighthouse.
At 7pm, people standing by the entrance to the lighthouse grounds counted down from 10, as Gaeilge, as the lighthouse was lit, recalling the first time it was lit on March 17th, 1817.
People then moved indoors for a community celebration, with cake, refreshments and music.
The lighthouse, now a discovery point along the Wild Atlantic Way tourism route, is enjoying a revival of interest in recent years.
Last spring, tours of the lighthouse were introduced and accommodation opened in the two original lightkeepers’ cottages and another lodging that had been used for people who worked for Irish Lights. The tours are offered on weekends this time of year and will be offered on a daily basis from closer to Easter. The accommodation is available year-round.
The lighthouse project has been developed through a partnership involving the Commissioners of Irish Lights; Coiste Forbairt Fhanada, the local Fanad Lighthouse committee; Donegal County Council; and Fáilte Ireland. EU funding was secured to develop the accommodation as part of the Great Lighthouses of Ireland trail.
In his remarks on Friday evening, John Friel, coiste chairperson, said, “This light has been shining for 200 years over the sea and land, and now it’s shining its light again on new opportunities for Fanad and for the people of Fanad, all due to the team that’s working here every day.”
John said the project has “surpassed all our expectations” over the past 11 months. Speaking later he said they thought initially they might get 9,000 or 10,000 people a year.
“We doubled that in the first year,” he said.
Local councillor, Liam Blaney, said the project, “has taken off big time, and long may it continue. There’s a great committee down here and they’re doing very good work.”
The lighthouse was also lit up in green last night for St. Patrick’s Day. Plans for the coming year include a new visitors centre and car park.
See Monday’s Donegal Democrat and Donegal People’s Press for more.