Wednesday 22 May 2019

'A special place' - New visitor centre opens at Donegal's Fanad Lighthouse

Visitor Reception Centre aims to boost shoulder season spend along the Wild Atlantic Way

Sunset at Fanad Head Lighthouse, County Donegal, Ireland
Sunset at Fanad Head Lighthouse, County Donegal, Ireland
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Donegal's Fanad Lighthouse is one of the most dramatic Discovery Points on the Wild Atlantic Way, and now it has a new Visitor Reception Centre.

The Centre, set next to the lighthouse at the tip of the Fanad Peninsula, houses an exhibition highlighting the stories of Fanad Head.

Fanad Lighthouse itself, which was first lit in 1817 and automated in 1983, opened to the public after refurbishment in 2015. Visitors can also stay over in former lighthouse keepers' cottages at the windswept site.

"Since its opening, Fanad Lighthouse has attracted over 50,000 visitors," said Yvonne Shields, Chief Executive of Irish Lights.

"This new facility will help attract even more of the ever-growing community of lighthouse enthusiasts that visit or stay at the Great Lighthouses of Ireland.”

The visitor centre has been resourced and developed by the local community, Special EU Programmes Body, Irish Lights, Donegal County Council and Údarás na Gaeltachta, with Fáilte Ireland investing €470,000 in the project.

“Fanad lighthouse is a special place - it really has to be seen to be believed," added Donegal TD Joe McHugh.

"In the Donegal Gaeltacht, it is also a beacon for the Irish language, playing a key role in promoting the language, not least by hiring Irish speaking students to work there during the busy summer months."

Great Lighthouses of Ireland: Fanad Head, Co. Donegal. Photo/Copyright: Andy McInroy
Great Lighthouses of Ireland: Fanad Head, Co. Donegal. Photo/Copyright: Andy McInroy

Now four years old, development of the Wild Atlantic Way is tacking towards improving visitor experiences at Signature Discovery Points and boosting visitor numbers in shoulder seasons each side of the summer months.

In recent weeks, a new Connemara and Aran Islands visitor strategy was announced, as was a €4.3 million investment by the OPW and Fáilte Ireland in visitor experiences at the Blasket Islands, Céide Fields, Inis Mór and Carrowmore heritage sites.

“Donegal has already benefited enormously from the Government’s and Fáilte Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way initiative, but we need to continue to deepen the experience and focus on growing that success year-on-year," said Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin, at the Fanad Lighthouse launch this week.

Resources have also been invested in visitor facilities at Malin Head, with a visitor experience development plan proposed for Inishowen.

Read more:

A Circuit of Donegal: 12 great reasons to visit The Forgotten County

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