• Cyril McAree

Visitor Reception Centre Officially Opens at Fanad Lighthouse

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin and Government Chief Whip and Minister for the Irish language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands, Joe McHugh will today officially open a new visitor reception centre at Fanad Lighthouse in Donegal.

Overlooking Malin Head, Fanad Lighthouse offers visitors breath-taking views and a truly memorable experience. Identified as a Signature Discovery Point along the Wild Atlantic Way, the refurbished lighthouse opened to the public in 2015. Alongside funding from the Special EU Programmes Body, Irish Lights, Donegal County Council and Údarás na Gaeltachta, Fáilte Ireland invested €470k in the development of a new visitor centre and car park. The new reception centre is also home to a permanent exhibition to highlight the stories of Fanad Head.

Speaking today ahead of the opening, Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin said: “Donegal has already benefitted enormously from the Government’s and Fáilte Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way initiative but we need to continue to deepen the experience and focus on growing that success year on year. The lighthouse embodies the maritime and seafaring history of Ireland and, since it opened to the public, has become an important tourist attraction along the route. The new visitor reception centre provides visitors with excellent facilities which will only add to the overall experience. The Government is fully committed to continued investment in fantastic experiences such as this along the Wild Atlantic Way.”

Donegal TD Joe McHugh said: “Fanad lighthouse is a special place - it really has to be seen to be believed. In the Donegal Gaeltacht, it is also a beacon for the Irish language, playing a key role in promoting the language, not least by hiring Irish speaking students to work there during the busy summer months. It is a unique place to visit and stay and tourism investment such as this along the Wild Atlantic Way and at the gateway to the Gaeltacht, is exactly the type of initiative that will encourage more and more people to come to Gaeltacht areas and to come to see the hidden gems of Donegal."

Commenting on the opening, Fáilte Ireland’s Head of the Wild Atlantic Way, Miriam Kennedy, said:“We are delighted to invest in the development of a visitor reception centre at Fanad Lighthouse. The funding is part of Fáilte Ireland’s strategy to improve the visitor experience at Signature Discovery Points along the Wild Atlantic Way in a bid to spread tourism across the region and grow tourism in the ‘shoulder seasons’ each side of summer. Local input is essential in developing visitor experiences and the local community and all parties involved have really come together to make this project a success. One of three Wild Atlantic Way Signature Discovery Points in the Northern Headlands, the new facilities at the lighthouse will enhance the visitor experience greatly, increasing dwell time and spend in the local area.”

Yvonne Shields, Chief Executive of Irish Lights said:“Our partnership with the Fanad community and Fáilte Ireland is a fantastic example of reaching out and working with others to create a vibrant and exciting tourism experience at one of our most beautiful lighthouses, while protecting and sharing our heritage and history for the benefit of tourism communities around our coast. Since the opening of the lighthouse, Fanad Lighthouse has attracted over 50,000 visitors – this new facility will help attract even more of the ever growing community of lighthouse enthusiasts that visit or stay at the Great Lighthouses of Ireland around our coast.”

The opening ties in with Fáilte Ireland’s ongoing plans to develop tourism in Donegal, complementing recent investment in visitor facilities at Malin Head and a proposed Visitor Experience Development Plan for the Inishowen area.



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