The Chief Executive of the commissioners of Irish Lights, Yvonne Shields, officially opened Valentia Island Lighthouse as a visitor’s attraction.  The Lighthouse was opened as part of a weekend of “Transatlantic Communications and Light Gathering “celebrations on the Island.

On the balcony of Cromwell Point lighthouse today are l-r Tom Curran County Manager Kerry County Council, Yvonne Sheilds CEO The Commissioners of Irish Lights who opened the lighthouse to the public and Anthony O'Connell Chairman Valentia Island Development Company. Picture by John Eagle.

On the balcony of Cromwell Point lighthouse are l-r Tom Curran County Manager Kerry County Council, Yvonne Sheilds CEO The Commissioners of Irish Lights who opened the lighthouse to the public and Anthony O’Connell Chairman Valentia Island Development Company. Picture by John Eagle.

Ms Sheilds said that” The Lighthouse continues to play a critical role for those who work on the sea and those who gain please from the sea. It symbolises the connection between the land and the sea in a very particular way and by opening up our lighthouses to the public we enable a much wider group of people to experience this connection to the sea and we hope at Cromwell point it will be enjoyed by the people of Kerry, the people of Ireland and by our international visitors. We are delighted to be associated with this development and we wish you all he very best and great success for the future”

The commissioners of Irish Lights will be working closely with Failte Ireland, Tourism Ireland and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board to develop an All-Ireland Lighthouse Tourism trail. Ms Sheilds said that the trial will be “an international product for Ireland and will consist of standalone projects like this linked in to an overall initiative and together the project and the sites will be marketed internationally. We will be launching the product in September and the first phase will consist of the development of five sites in Donegal and Northern Ireland which will include visitor accommodation, we will be also developing an online learning zone and smart interpretation. This project will be developed by Failte Ireland as part of the ‘Wild Atlantic Way’. We very hope that Cromwell point, along with existing facilities at Hook head, at Mizzen head in cork and loop head in country Clare will all be participating in this project.

Ms Sheilds congratulated everyone involved with the Valentia transatlantic communications and light gathering and wished everyone well in developing Valentia as an international heritage designation with UNESCO.

Present at the official Transatlantic and Light Gathering were Professor al Gillespie, rapporteur for UNESCO, Mr Cyrus Field IV, descendant of Cyrus Field I who laid the first successful transatlantic cable between Valentia Island and Hearts Content, Newfoundland, his wife Stephanie  Buffum,   Mr Tom Curran, Manager Kerry Co Council, The Knight of Kerry, Sir Adrian Fitzgerald. The Canadian ambassador Loyola Ahearn; Mr John Hennessey-Niland, Chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Dublin. Mary Rose Stafford Manager at Irish Academy of Hospitality & Tourism at the IT Tralee.