Hook lights the way for tourists along Ancient East trail
The last permanent lighthouse keeper to live and work on site watched as the ribbon was cut on a new tour that will be a cornerstone of the Ireland's Ancient East trail.
Hook Lighthouse is the first location on the trail to open a new visitor tour for the 2016 season as it competes for attention with the hugely popular Wild Atlantic Way.
It includes an ascent of 115 steps to the top of the tower, holograms explaining the lighthouse's ancient history, and spectacular views of the southern coast.
Fáilte Ireland hopes Ireland's Ancient East will deliver up to 600,000 extra visitors and a 25pc boost in revenue by 2020, with Hook Lighthouse expected to improve on its visitor numbers by 15pc.
"There's nowhere that can compare to the Hook," said Tux Tweedy, the last lighthouse keeper to work and live at the tower before the light itself became automated.
"This place is unique and probably the greatest asset is the building itself. Structurally it hasn't changed in 900 years and that makes it so attractive to visitors … I hope for many years to come, people will get great enjoyment from this lighthouse."
Hook is said to be the oldest working lighthouse in the world, and has been attracting increasing numbers of visitors since it opened for tours 15 years ago. "In the first year they were expecting 5,000," general manager Ann Waters said.
"But they exceeded that immediately and last year we put 40,000 people through the tower."