Stunning Fanad Lighthouse - Image Courtesy of Great Lighthouses of Ireland.
In May 2016 Fáilte Ireland welcomed the opening of the newly refurbished Fanad Head lighthouse as a vital contribution to the success of the Wild Atlantic Way and a boost for tourism in the north-west.
The lighthouse’s redevelopment was partly funded by €300,000 in Fáilte Ireland funding due to its status as a designated signature discovery point along the Wild Atlantic Way, and its potential to truly showcase wild Atlantic moments and stories.
The lighthouse offers visitors breathtaking and memorable experiences, telling the remarkable story of the sea, lighthouses past and present and the maritime and seafaring history of Ireland.
Speaking at an official ceremony to open the newly refurbished lighthouse, Fáilte Ireland CEO, Shaun Quinn said he believed the Wild Atlantic Way would be a “game changer” for north Mayo, Sligo and Donegal.
Mr Quinn pointed out that the project was a perfect fit for the Wild Atlantic Way and tied in with Fáilte Ireland’s plans to develop Donegal tourism, complementing as it does the tourism authority’s recent €3m investment in Sliabh Liag. The development at Fanad Head will also sit alongside Fáilte Ireland’s plans to substantially enhance nearby Malin Head. As an initial step, the tourism authority recently announced funding of €396,000 to Donegal County Council to develop visitor facilities at Malin Head which will significantly enhance the visitor experience at that site.
Mr Quinn emphasised: “We want Donegal and the north west in particular to benefit from the Wild Atlantic Way. Along the southern part of the coastal route, most of those parts have traditionally thrived on tourism and the Wild Atlantic Way will grow their numbers. However, north of Galway – particularly through north Mayo, Sligo and up to Donegal – we believe that the Wild Atlantic Way will be a game changer and provide the boost to local economies and local employment that this part of Ireland sorely needs.
“However, for that to happen, we need more overseas visitors. And, for visitors, we need good compelling reasons for them to visit. Investment in Sliabh Liag, Malin Head and Fanad Head Lighthouse is designed to provide just that."
Happy to invest in project
Referring to the specific project at Fanad Lighthouse, he said they were very happy to support the project: “We, in Fáilte Ireland, were more than happy to invest in the refurbishment of the lighthouse. While the scenery of the Wild Atlantic Way can speak for itself, we are anxious for communities along the western seaboard to tell their stories and attract visitors – and to persuade them to spend more time and money in places such as Fanad.”
The restoration works include an interpretation area in the lighthouse to give visitors the history of the lighthouse, the Fanad story, as well as the stories of marine life and nearby shipwrecks.
A permanent exhibition will include lighthouse keepers’ records/log books; semaphore flags; replacement lights and old light systems; historical maps; stories and anecdotes from Fanad Head. Furthermore, on a more practical note, a new visitor facility added to the lighthouse will allow for greater numbers of visitors, providing as it does a reception and display area, an exhibition area and other services.
Overlooking Malin Head, the most northerly point in Ireland, Fanad Head lighthouse, which is still in operation, marks its 200th anniversary in 2017. The lighthouse was also due to feature in the Commissioners of Irish Lights ‘Shine a Light on Summer Festival’ which takes place this weekend and which also received funding from Fáilte Ireland.