During the year, many of you watched the second series of RTÉ’s documentary Great Lighthouses of Ireland, showcasing Ireland’s lighthouses and the captivating and complex maritime history and heritage of the seas around the island of Ireland and the new challenges and opportunities which we face today. https://youtu.be/CefSu-OrDGU
For hundreds of years lighthouses have helped seafarers find their way and are valued and loved by many. Lighthouses in Ireland go all the way back to the 5th Century, when we know that a Welsh monk St Dubhan established a warning beacon at Hook Head, making the lighthouse at Hook, the longest continuous light on the island. Hook | Great Lighthouses of Ireland
The importance and significance of these structures and their role grew and developed over time and through the 17th and 18th century, lighthouses were established through specific acts of parliament, and were operated and maintained by local agents and contractors.
The first structured administration of lighthouses dates from 1786 with the creation of the Corporation for the Preservation and Improvement of the Port of Dublin which was given responsibility for lighthouses in the Dublin area.
Its remit was expanded to lighthouses for the whole of Ireland in 1810 with the passing of the Lighthouses of Ireland Act, and the next 100 years was a period of great lighthouses development with more than 50 new lighthouses built.
In 1867 the Corporation was split into 2 new organizations, the Dublin Port and Docks Board and the Commissioners of Irish Lights, known as Irish Lights, Home (irishlights.ie) an organisation with a long and proud heritage of providing safety at sea. Most people when they think of Irish Lights, think of lighthouses. Yes, lighthouses are important, but their focus today is wider than that.
There’s a lot of activity on our seas. This is an island: we are surrounded by the sea that connects us to the wider world. Over 90% of our exports and imports are by sea, 6 million people travel by sea every year, We have an important fishing sector with over 2000 fishing boats in the fleet, Many people love to enjoy sailing, sea angling and other types of leisure on the sea. We have many offshore island and associated ferries. Irish Lights role is to ensure safe navigation for them all – protecting lives, property, trade and the environment around our coast.
Great Lighthouses of Ireland Homepage | Great Lighthouses of Ireland is an all- island tourism initiative developed by Irish Lights. Throughout its history, Irish Lights has recognised its obligations as a guardian of maritime heritage and by its presence on the coast they seek to positively impact on coastal communities through the provision of its core services and through the use of its coastal infrastructure for tourism and heritage activity.
Launched in 2015, It brings together all of the lighthouses around the coast that are open to the public under one unified brand and partnership that collaborate to welcome visitors from around the world and give them an insight our shared lighthouse heritage at the heart of local coastal communities.
Currently representing 14 entities, including local authorities, community groups and government agencies, actions are aligned with Government policy in areas such as tourism heritage and rural development on the island of Ireland, North and South.
For such a young brand and partnership much has been delivered. In line with overall tourism performance to 2019 visitor numbers increased year on year and many development opportunities were realised.
An independent socio-economic review in 2018 confirmed that Great Lighthouses of Ireland delivered economic benefit impact of €16.86m and supported 409 jobs in the wider coastal communities
In 2019, 143,580 visitors and guests spent money and time at a lighthouse and all partners were planning for growth particularly from overseas markets in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching consequences for the tourism sector, however initiatives over the last two years have consolidated the partners commitment to being an exemplar in delivering sustainable maritime and tourism experiences.
There is evidence of an increased demand for slower, more sustainable rural travel and visitors seeking experiences that minimise their impact on the environment and contribute to the local economic wellbeing.
With a new look brand, content and collateral driving consumer interest and business, all partners are optimistic for the future and are working to making a difference within each community and destination they are part of.
It is the intention of Irish Lights, together with Great Lighthouses of Ireland partners to collaborate with tourism agencies, destination stakeholders and coastal communities to develop more experiences that enable the visitor to feel connected with nature at these enchanting outposts where the land meets sea and enjoy raw beauty against a breath-taking backdrop.
Over the course of the next year, Hotel and Restaurant Times will feature a number of Great Lighthouses of Ireland experiences and key projects. The opportunity to collaborate with hospitality partners is both important and timely as visitors are drawn by the beauty and stories associated with lighthouses and there is an immense appeal for experiences that embrace the energy of these mysterious Lighthouses