#loophead – Figures released today show that over 19,000 people (14,101 adults, 5,082 children) visited Loop Head Lighthouse during the six-month opening period up to Sunday, 29 September.
Clare County Council, which manages the facility in conjunction with the Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL), said preliminary estimates indicate that 75% of the total visitor figure was represented by domestic visitors, of which approximately 55% were holidaymakers and 30% were day trippers, with local visitors accounting for the remainder. Overseas visitors accounted for 25% of the total figure.
The Lighthouse was opened on a weekend basis from St Patricks Weekend until mid-May after which it was opened daily until the end of September. Opening hours were extended by two hours to 7.30pm during late July and August to accommodate the surge in visitor numbers to the West Clare landmark this summer.
The visitor figures, which represent a jump of 2,000 on the same period in 2012, coincide with the recent announcement that Loop Head Peninsula has been shortlisted alongside Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark and 6 other sustainable tourism destinations and organisations in the 'Best Destination for Responsible Tourism' category of the 10th annual 2013 World Responsible Tourism Awards. Other shortlisted locations include Bhutan, Bonito (Brazil) Nature Park & Glacier Region Kaunertal (Austria), Mara Naboisho Conservancy (Kenya), Valleys Regional Park (Wales) and Lithuania in the 'Best Destination for Responsible Tourism' category.
The awards ceremony, which is being hosted by World Travel Market, takes place on Wednesday 06 November during World Responsible Tourism Day, at the ExCeL London Exhibition and Convention Centre.
Loop Head Lighthouse, located at the mouth of the Shannon Estuary, is steeped in history and rich in maritime heritage with its origins dating back to the 1670s. The existing tower style lighthouse was constructed in 1854 and was operated and maintained by a keeper who lived within the lighthouse compound.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny's grandfather was a keeper at the lighthouse. James John McGinley took up duty at the Lighthouse as Principal Keeper on 16th January 1933. He spent 1 year and 10 months at Loop Head. He was transferred from the station in October 1934. In January 1991, the lighthouse was converted to automatic operation, and today is in the care of an attendant and is also monitored by the CIL.