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Kerry campaigners hope to achieve Unesco heritage status for Valentia Island

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Valentia Island’s links to the first transatlantic cable could see it secure status. Photo: Eamonn Keogh

Valentia Island’s links to the first transatlantic cable could see it secure status. Photo: Eamonn Keogh

Valentia Island’s links to the first transatlantic cable could see it secure status. Photo: Eamonn Keogh

Kerry is aiming to secure another Unesco World Heritage site with campaigners urging the inclusion of Valentia Island and its links to the first transatlantic cable included on a provisional list.

Unesco World Heritage status ranks as the most prestigious a heritage or cultural site can be awarded.

It secures not only an increased tourism profile worldwide, but preferential access to future preservation and maintenance funding.

Ireland is preparing a provisional list for consideration, and only
sites designated by their
own country will be considered for the final Unesco award.

Heritage Minister Malcolm Noonan will sign off on the provisional list next year, with Kerry campaigners determined to see Valentia Island’s links to the emergence of the modern telecommunications age honoured.

Kerry already has one of the world’s most famous Unesco World Heritage sites in Skellig Michael, which was added to the global list in 1996.

The county’s bid to see Valentia Island secure Unesco World Heritage status has been boosted by a similar campaign in Canada, which represents the other end of the original transatlantic cable.

Canadian officials have been lobbying for Heart’s Content in Newfoundland, where the North American element of the cable landed, to receive Unesco status.

Local people on Valentia told Radio Kerry that their focus now is on emphasising the Island site’s international importance.

Campaigners said the Valentia Island transatlantic cable had a comparable impact on 19th-century communications as the internet has had on the 20th and 21st centuries.

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The campaign will be carried out through further research work on the impact, integrity and authenticity of the Valentia proposal.

The island’s transatlantic cable was made possible thanks to the work of two pioneering Irish scientists – Dublin chemist Henry Bewley and Belfast physicist and engineer William Thomson (Lord Kelvin).

Thomson developed the machine to decipher the electrical messages being sent from Europe to North America through the cable, while Mr Bewley proposed the use of a special rubber to seal the copper cable laid
on the sea bed in order to protect it.


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