Fanad Head has been voted one of the most beautiful Lighthouses in the world, and on Friday 29th April over 100 guests attended the officially opening of the EU InterReg IVA-supported Lighthouse, which now offers guided tours and unique self-catering accommodation with simply breath-taking views overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
These spectacular offerings will be managed by Forbairt Fhánada Teoranta, a local community group. The launch was a bi-lingual event as Fanad is the only lighthouse in the Gaeltacht open to the public. Renowned author and educator Finbarr Bradley officially opened the Lighthouse.
From a technical standpoint, the light in Fanad Head Lighthouse will continue to be operated and maintained by Irish Lights. A Light was first established here nearly 200 years ago (in 1817) to protect seafarers, and could be seen for over 14 miles on a clear day. It remains an important aid to navigation for mariners today, alongside 66 other lighthouses operated and maintained by Irish Lights.
This exciting project facilitated by Irish Lights, and operated by Forbairt Fhánada Teoranta, will contribute to the ongoing economic development of the local region.
Yvonne Shields, Irish Lights’ Chief Executive, said: “Irish Lights has a long and rich history and connection to the coast and its communities. We have and continue to provide an important navigation service around the coast of Ireland and Fanad Lighthouse is an important navigation aid on the North West coast. In 2012 when we first contemplated the idea of refurbishing Fanad Lighthouse and opening it for tourism, we approached the local community for their input.
“From the very start the community embraced the idea and began to organise themselves to take on the community enterprise project that you see here today. A huge partnership of public and private sector partners came together and worked as a team to invest in and to develop this fabulous lighthouse visitor experience which gives people the opportunity to see and stay in a working lighthouse and to contribute to the preservation of our rich maritime heritage on the Wild Atlantic Way.”
On behalf of Forbairt Fhánada Teoranta, Cathaoirleach John Friel said: “Forbairt Fhánada Teoranta is proud to be involved with this wonderful opportunity for Fanad and North Donegal. It is our hope that the lighthouse project will be a catalyst for development in the cultural and economic life of the area and we are very grateful to Irish Lights for their ongoing support and help, as well as Donegal County Council, Donegal Tourism, Údarás na Gaeltachta, and Fáilte Ireland.”
Gina McIntyre, Chief Executive, SEUPB, said: “This is an innovative cross-border project that will attract a new generation of domestic and overseas tourists into the region. Tourism was a key feature of InterReg IVA as the programme provided support to a wide range of projects that have drawn on the natural environment to create world-class tourist offerings. I am delighted to see that, through the re-development of Fanad Head Lighthouse, EU funding has been able to conserve part of our precious maritime history and encourage visitors to share in this experience.”
Fanad Head Lighthouse is also part of the Great Lighthouses of Ireland initiative and is a Signature Discovery Point along the Wild Atlantic Way. The official opening also marks the start of a weekend of festive events being held at different lighthouses all around the coast, in the inaugural Lighthouse Festival, Great Lighthouses of Ireland Shine a Light on Summer, over the May bank holiday weekend, which is being supported by Failte Ireland.
The Great Lighthouses of Ireland project has been funded by the European Union’s InterReg IVA cross-border programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes body (SEPUB).