More than 12,500 people have visited Loop Head Lighthouse in County Clare since it was officially opened to the public on 18 May last, figures released today show.
Up to Monday (13 August 2012), 9691 adults and 2870 children had visited the historic West Clare landmark.
Clare County Council, along with Shannon Development, Loop Head Tourism and the Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL), opened the 19th century lighthouse to the public for the second successive summer season in May. It is estimated that the 11-week trial opening scheme in 2011 was worth approximately €400,000 to the local economy.
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.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s grandfather was a keeper at the lighthouse. James John McGinley took up duty at the Lighthouse as Principal Keeper on 16th January 1933. He spent 1 year and 10 months at Loop Head. He was transferred from the station in October 1934. 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 visitor figures are extremely encouraging and highlight the huge interest that exists amongst members of the public in Ireland’s rich maritime heritage,” explained Ger Dollard, Director of Services, Clare County Council.
He added: “The opening of the Lighthouse to the public has provided a significant boost to the local economy in the Loop Head Peninsula and wider West Clare region. The success of the project underlines the continued growth in the heritage tourism sector, as also evidenced by the recent reopening of Ennis Friary.”
Mr. Dollard noted that the introduction this year of a new interpretative exhibition at Loop Head Lighthouse has helped to sustain the success of the trial opening scheme in 2011.
The exhibition, all materials and labour for which were sourced locally, focuses on the history of Irish lighthouses and the people who have operated them since the 17th century.
“With our project partners at Shannon Development, Loop Head Tourism and the Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL), Clare County Council looks forward to the continued success of this project,” Mr. Dollard concluded.
Loop Head Lighthouse will remain open to the public up to 3rd September 2012. Visit www.loophead.ie, www.clare.ie or www.shannonregiontrails.ie for more information on Loop Head Lighthouse and the Loop Head Peninsula.