Loop Head Lighthouse in County Clare will be amongst hundreds of lighthouses and lightships worldwide to participate in a unique event aimed at promoting public awareness of lighthouses and lightships and their need for preservation and restoration.
The Limerick Radio Club, comprising members from Limerick, Clare, Kerry and Tipperary, will broadcast non-stop for 48 hours from the West Clare Lighthouse on August 18-19th as part of the 15th International Lighthouse /Lightship Weekend (ILLW). During the broadcast, visitors to the lighthouse will be able to listen into communications with some of the other participating ham radio operators broadcasting from 400 other lighthouses and lightships in 50 countries.
The annual event, which is conducted under the sponsorship of the Ayr Amateur Radio Group (AARG) in Scotland, is always held on the third full weekend in August starting at 0001 UTC on Saturday and finishing at 2359 UTC on Sunday. It also coincides on the Sunday with International Lighthouse Day, an event organised by the Association of Lighthouse Keepers whereby many world lighthouses are open to the public for the day.
Ireland will be represented by Lighthouses at Loop Head (Clare), Roches Point (Cork), St John’s Point (Down), Cromwell Point (Kerry) and Blacksod (Mayo).
Simon Kenny, Chairperson of Limerick Radio Club, explained: “The club, which was founded in 1946, has a long association with the Lighthouse Weekend and this year, for the first time, we are privileged to be allowed to operate from Loop Head.”
Mr. Kenny added: “We hope to open long distance communications with regions in Asia, through Europe, North and South America, Australia and New Zealand. A special QSL Card (confirmation of communication) has been designed to mark the event. Club membership is open to individuals from all walks of life who are interested in radio communications, electronic construction and antenna design. The club will operate two stations, one of which will be at the entrance to the Lighthouse so members of the public can listen to some of the transmissions. Our web site is www.limerickradioclub.ie.”
Clare County Council, along with Shannon Development, Loop Head Tourism and the Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL), has sanctioned the broadcast from Loop Head Lighthouse by the Limerick Radio Club. The Club has also received approval from the Communications Regulator.
According to Ger Dollard, Director of Services, Clare County Council: “We wish the members of Limerick Radio Club the very best of luck over the weekend. Their participation in this initiative helps to raise public awareness of Loop Head Lighthouse and other similar facilities across the world, while at the same time helps to promote amateur radio and to foster international goodwill.”
Loop Head Lighthouse, located at the mouth of the Shannon Estuary, is steeped in history and rich in maritime heritage with its origins dating back to the 1670s. The existing tower style lighthouse was constructed in 1854 and was operated and maintained by a keeper who lived within the lighthouse compound. In January 1991, the lighthouse was converted to automatic operation, and today is in the care of an attendant and is also monitored by the CIL.
The Lighthouse has reopened to the public this summer, following a successful trial scheme in 2011 that resulted in an estimated 17,000 people visiting the landmark building.
Further information on the 15th annual International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend (ILLW) is available from www.illw.net. Visit www.loophead.ie or www.clare.ie for more information on Loop Head Lighthouse and the Loop Head Peninsula.