Spotlight shines on Valentia Lighthouse

The Islandman

The Irish Coastguard helicopter and the Valentia Lifeboat performing a display near the Valentia Lighthouse
The Irish Coastguard helicopter and the Valentia Lifeboat performing a display near the Valentia Lighthouse
The Valentia Island Lighthouse at Cromwell Point

Liam Lynch

Celebrating the great lighthouses of Ireland, the 'Shine A Light on Summer Festival' proved a great success recently and on Sunday the spotlight shone on the Valentia Island Lighthouse as an open day was held at the impressive Cromwell's Point at the entrance to Valentia Harbour.

A free shuttle bus from Knightstown was available with free admission to the lighthouse throughout day. On entering the lighthouse patrons were welcomed by Principal Lighthouse Keeper Thomas Peckwater Drake, alias 'Kittywake', who appeared on screen in animated fashion.

Did anyone recognise his voice? It was simulated by lighthouse committee member Paul Duff. Paul's daughter Chrissie was available for face painting and Eleanor Jayne Turner from Waterville of the Seasynergy and Marine Awareness Activities Centre had a table on display and explained seafaring matters to parents and children.

Former Valentia lightkeepers Ted Kennedy, Pat O'Shea and Richard Foran were also on screen recalling their lightkeeping days.

And the young traditional music band, Celtic Vibe, set a musical tone by entertaining visitors as they performd at the base of the tower. They are Caoimhe O'Shea and Cliodhna Guiney of Valentia and Natalie O'Connor, Sarah Landers and Kelsy McCarthy of Cahirsiveen.

Ann Curran of Lower Ballyhearney served in the coffee shop and outside Brian Morgan and Tom Healy of the Lighthouse Committee gave out burgers and hot dogs at the barbecue.

Concubhair Lyne of the South Kerry Development Partnership in charge of works there attended and operating for the first time in an official capacity was the newly appointed Valentia Lighthouse Manager, Wendy Blemings, who hails from near Dungannon in County Tyrone. All good wishes are extended to her on her new venture.

The highlight of the day was the display given by the Irish Coastguard Search and Rescue helicopter in association with the Valentia lifeboat in which winching operations were also performed.

On a dry breezy day it made for spectacular viewing, complimented by the background of Dingle Bay, Beginish Island, the Over -The-Water area and the panoramic beauty of Valentia Harbour. The festival will continue to be an annual event at the lighthouse.

Meanwhile, as part of the Shine a Light event, a 'Great Lighthouse, Great Fun' photography competition was also launched.

Entrants are invited to take a photograph that best captures and expresses summer fun at one of the Great Lighthouses of Ireland.

The winner will enjoy a personal Great Lighthouses of Ireland experience for four people, including a two-night stay at any of the Great Lighthouses of Ireland self-catering houses. The prize also includes a personal tour with the leading storykeeper at any of the lighthouse attractions.

Closing date is June 20. To enter, post your photo on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook using the hashtag #GreatLighthouseGreatFun.


Lighting the seas for almost two centuries 

The Valentia Island Lighthouse situated at Cromwell Point is maintained by the Commissioners of Irish Lights as a harbour light to guide vessels from the sea, leading them through the northern entrance to Valentia Harbour.

The first light for Cromwell Point was originally applied for 190 years ago, on March 30, 1828, by the Right Honorary Maurice Fitzgerald, Knight of Kerry. Work commenced in 1838 with the light was first exhibited on February 1, 1841.

Originally, the lighthouse was staffed by a single lightkeeper, housed with his family on site.

Since November 1947, the light has been automated with a part-time attendant appointed to look after the station. Today it operates as a Lighthouse Heritage Centre.