ONE of West Clare’s most popular tourist attractions will see considerable renovation and development as part of a plan focused on sustainability growth, writes Fiona McGarry.
The keeper’s cottage at Loop Head Lighthouse, which dates back to the mid-19th century, will be renovated and repaired to high conservation standards.
Works will include the repair of the existing roof and sash windows and the making safe of internal electrical works. Custy Construction has been contracted by Clare County Council to carry out the works.
Meanwhile, the Council has confirmed that plans will be submitted to An Bord Pleanála for an enhanced visitor attraction within the compound of the lighthouse. The plans include an upgrade to the wastewater treatment system and a visitor management plan for the area to ensure that all development aids the conservation objectives of the Special Area of Conservation in the Loop Head Peninsula.
Loop Head Lighthouse is steeped in history and is rich in maritime heritage, with its origins dating back to the 1670s.
Located at the mouth of Shannon Estuary, the existing tower style lighthouse was constructed in 1854 and was operated and maintained by a keeper who lived within the lighthouse compound.
In January 1991, the lighthouse was converted to automatic operation, and today is monitored by the Commissioner of Irish Lights.
Loop Head Lighthouse has attracted tens of thousands of visitors since it first opened to the public in 2011.
The attraction has been closed to the public since 2020 to facilitate a large-scale renovation project complemented by the successful implementation of a 1.7km installation of a water main pipe to the lighthouse, which up to now has no mains water connection. The project is funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development’s Rural Regeneration Development Funding (RRDF) scheme as part of Project Ireland 2040.
“Loop Head Lighthouse has helped to strengthen the profile, both nationally and internationally, of the wider Loop Head Peninsula and its offering as a tourism destination,” said Councillor PJ Ryan, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council.
“Under the Clare Tourism Strategy 2030 and the Clare Rural Development Strategy 2026, Clare County Council is committed to identifying opportunities to sustainably develop our tourism infrastructure in a way that benefits the rural regeneration of our towns and villages and protects the wonderful natural environment that visitors want to experience.
“There has never been a more important time for such sustainable tourism development to take place as Clare strives to recover post-Covid.”
Pat Dowling, Chief Executive of Clare County Council, acknowledged the collaborative cross-agency and community support for the project which, he said “underlines the importance of placing communities and their wellbeing at the heart of tourism developments”.
“The progress in further expanding and improving the sustainable tourism development offering at Loop Head Lighthouse, which will benefit the wider peninsula, could not be achieved without engagement with key stakeholders including Elected Members, Loop Head Tourism, the Department of Rural and Community Development, Fáilte Ireland, the Commissioner of Irish Lights and the National Parks and Wildlife Service,” Mr Dowling noted.
“The delivery of an enhanced visitor attraction will help ongoing local efforts to ensure County Clare is at the forefront of sustainability and innovation in rural tourism within Ireland and beyond.”
Loop Head Lighthouse is one of two Signature Discovery Points in Clare along the Wild Atlantic Way. It also is a landmark location on the Loop Head Heritage Trail and one of 12 Great Lighthouses of Ireland.