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Loop Head Lighthouse in West Clare, one of the Great Lighthouses of Ireland, will reopen to the public this Saturday (March 12th 2016).

Clare County Council, which manages the facility in conjunction with the Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL), says the historic lighthouse will remain open daily (10am-6pm) until October 2nd.

The popular tourist attraction attracted 26,932 visitors during 2015. The figure represents an increase of 6,564 or 32% on 2014 visitor numbers.

Loop Head Lighthouse is a landmark location on the Loop Head Heritage Trail which was named winner of the 'Culture and Heritage' category of the 2015 World Responsible Tourism Awards. It is also one of twelve lighthouses which make up Great Lighthouses of Ireland, a new all-island tourism initiative, and is one of two Signature Discovery Points in County Clare along the route of the Wild Atlantic Way.

Cllr. James Breen, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council said the lighthouse has become "a key driver" of visitor numbers to the Loop Head Peninsula since it was first opened to the public in 2011.

He added, "Loop Head Lighthouse truly is one of the tourism success stories for County Clare in recent years. It has helped to strengthen the profile, both nationally and internationally, of the wider Loop Head Peninsula and what it has to offer as a tourism destination. Its promotion as a Signature Discovery Point along the route of the Wild Atlantic Way has also ensured that the attraction has been promoted both in Ireland and overseas, which is reflected in the origin of visitors."

Almost half of the total visitor figure during 2015 was represented by Irish visitors, with Germany, North America, UK, France and Italy collectively accounting for more than 42% of the overall figure.

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. 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.

Admission to Loop Head Lighthouse, which includes the exhibition and guided tour of the site, is Adults (€5), Children (Under 14 - €2) and Family Passes for up to 2 adults + 3 children (€12). Visit www.loophead.ie or www.clare.ie for more information on Loop Head Lighthouse and the Loop Head Peninsula.

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#lighthouses – A "brand new experience to take your breath away", that's the promise from Great Lighthouses of Ireland, a new EU INTERREG IVA funded tourism initiative being launched by the Commissioners of Irish Lights.

Featuring twelve lighthouses in stunning coastal locations, Great Lighthouses of Ireland will offer memorable, enriching experiences that inspire the senses, refresh the spirit and fire curiosity, creating a deep appreciation of the role of the sea, lighthouses, past and present, and the maritime and seafaring story of the island of Ireland.
With a range of services from accommodation to visitor centres and guided tours, visitors from home and abroad will have the chance to explore the distinct experiences offered by the lighthouses, each reflecting its own history and heritage, nature and environment, people and place, with aspects to appeal to people of all ages and interests.

The Great Lighthouses of Ireland project is supported by the European Union's INTERREG IVA cross-border Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. The ambitious and imaginative cross-border project will include the preservation and conservation of the island of Ireland's important maritime and lighthouse heritage. Great Lighthouses is built on a sustainable economic model and the re-invention of individual lighthouses as visitor attractions and specialist self-catering accommodation that can contribute to local communities in terms of jobs and specialist tourism.

Irish Lights operate over seventy lighthouses around the coast of Ireland. These lighthouses, including the Great Lighthouses of Ireland, still play a vital role in maritime safety.

Great Lighthouses of Ireland partners include the Irish Landmark Trust, the Royal Society for Protection of Birds, Forbairt Fhanada Teoranta (Fanad Community Group), Clare County Council, Ballycotton Lighthouse Tours, Mid & East Antrim Borough Council, Hook Heritage limited, Valentia Island Development Company, Kerry County Council and Clare Island Lighthouse. Great Lighthouses of Ireland is also supported by Tourism Ireland, Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Northern Ireland.

Great Lighthouses of Ireland
St John's Point, Co Donegal
Fanad Head, Co Donegal
Rathlin West Light, Co Antrim
Blackhead, Co Antrim
St John's Point, Co Down
Wicklow Head, Co Wicklow
Hook, Co Wexford
Ballycotton, Co Cork
Galley Head, Co Cork
Valentia Island, Co Kerry
Loop Head, Co Clare
Clare Island, Co Mayo

#lighhousereview – The General Lighthouse Authorities for the UK and Ireland have now completed their latest 5 yearly comprehensive review of Aids to Navigation (AtoN) requirements for the waters around Ireland and the United Kingdom. User Feedback, Automatic Identification System (AIS) traffic analysis, Targeted User Consultation, Navigational Significance Assessments, Risk Assessments and Peer Review were all used to help define ongoing User Requirements. The full document is downloadable below as a pdf document.

The following principles were applied during the review process to ensure consistency:
• Generally having one light in view is acceptable
• Generally a max range of 18 Nautical Miles is considered sufficient for most lights
• If practical there can be a reduction in amount and diversity of flash characters on lighthouse lights
• Leading Lights remain important
• Sectored Lights remain important
• Synchronised and Sequential Buoy lights can be used more
The decisions were made following consultation with users and representative organization's across the whole spectrum of the industry from large SOLAS vessels to leisure users and the fishing sector.
A summary of the changes that Irish Lights will make is as follows:
• Establish RACON at the Foyle Buoy due to increased large vessel traffic
• Open negotiations to upgrade to general AtoN status' Bloody Foreland Light as analysis has shown General Traffic is transiting the area
• Disestablish the Pollock Buoy as the Power South Cardinal has made this Buoy redundant
• Replace the Briggs Port Hand Buoy with a North Cardinal Buoy to provide a clearer indication of the position of the danger
• Establish a Buoy in place of the Unlit Carrigavadra Beacon
• Sequence Buoyage at the entrance to Rosslare
Capt. Harry McClenahan Navigation Manager at Irish Lights said "The rate of technological changes in navigation support systems and materials has had a significant and positive effect on the services that Irish Lights provides to the Mariner, allowing for higher performance yet lower power demands from our stations. We are in the embryonic phase of the evolution of digital systems which are already starting to shape the future of marine navigation and communications. To ensure that safety of persons and property and environmental protection remain as the main focus for future navigation services we use our resources, experience and competency to explore and trial new systems and materials."

The 2015 Aids to Navigation Review was launched yesterday at the Joint Users Consultative Group Meeting in Trinity House London. The changes will be phased in over the coming years and will be fully promulgated in advance by Notice to Mariners. 

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#loophead – Former RTE newsreader and lighthouse enthusiast, Anne Doyle was in West Clare today where she joined Councillor John Crowe, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, in launching Loop Head Lighthouse's 2015 tourist season.

The historic landmark commenced its 5th year of operations when it reopened to the public on 03 April last. Clare County Council, which manages Loop Head Lighthouse in conjunction with the Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL), says the facility will remain open daily (10am-6pm) until 4th October 2015.

Anne Doyle has been captivated by lighthouses since her childhood in Ferns, County Wexford, where she grew up observing the sweeping lights of the Tuskar Rock Lighthouse.

"Ireland's lighthouses hold so much history and are located in some of Western Europe's most scenic settings. Loop Head is no exception and the location of the lighthouse on the tip of the majestic Loop Head Peninsula and at the mouth of the Shannon Estuary makes it extra special," said Ms. Doyle.

Commenting on the launch of the 2015 visitor season, Councillor John Crowe said: "The 19th century West Clare landmark will be looking to capitalise on its designation as a Signature Discovery Point on the Wild Atlantic Way and further promote the economic development of the Loop Head Peninsula."

"Visitor numbers at the lighthouse have continued grow year on year since it was first opened to the public in 2011. During this time the lighthouse has delivered a major boost to economic activity in the wider area and I am confident it will further build on this in the months and years ahead," he added.

Loop Head Lighthouse 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.

Located to the rear of the lighthouse is an Éire sign etched into the headland, which was used to alert passing Allied aircrews that they were passing over neutral Ireland during World War Two.

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.

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#loophead – The historic Loop Head Lighthouse reopens to the public this Friday. The 19th century West Clare landmark will be looking to capitalise on its designation as a Signature Discovery Point on the Wild Atlantic Way by exceeding the 20,368 visitors it recorded during its six-month opening period during 2014.

Clare County Council, which manages Loop Head Lighthouse in conjunction with the Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL), says the facility will remain open daily (10am-6pm) until 4th October 2015.

"2014, which was the lighthouse's fourth year of operation as a visitor attraction, saw visitor figures buoyed by the development of new services at Shannon Airport, favourable weather conditions and the launch of the Wild Atlantic Way," said Gerard Dollard, Director of Services, Tourism & Community, Clare County Council.

"We are confident that its status as one of Clare's most popular visitor attractions as well as a Signature Discovery Point on the Wild Atlantic Way will garner further interest from domestic and international visitors alike. Over its five years of operation the lighthouse project has been a major boost to economic activity in the wider area and we would hope to further build on this" added Mr. Dollard.

61% of the total visitor figure for 2014 was represented by Irish visitors, with North America, the United Kingdom and Germany each accounting for 8% of the overall figure. Italian and French visitors meanwhile, represented just over 5% of the total figure.

Loop Head Lighthouse, located at the mouth of the Shannon Estuary, has 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.

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The Commissioners of Irish Lights are seeking feedback from users on the visual and radar detection performance of new buoys in varying states of weather and sea state on the Irish East Coast. 

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the 'Spar' buoys performance comparison trials will commence on the Bennet Bank and West Blackwater stations. The trial is to determine the visible and radar conspicuity performance of the spar structures in comparison to the profile of the existing conventionally shaped buoys. The full notice to mariners is available to download below as a pdf file. 

Spar type buoys of the same light and daymark display as the existing buoys will be established in close proximity to the Bennet Bank and West Blackwater stations. The Spar Buoys will be positioned 300 metres to the north of the Bennet Bank Buoy and 300 metres to the east of the West Blackwater Buoy. 

Mariners are advised to maintain a safe distance from these buoys during the trial period which is expected to last approximately twelve months.

Observation forms are available on the CIL website here and completed forms can be returned by email to the Trial Assessment Team at [email protected]

Radio Navigation Warnings will be issued when the trial commences.

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#cil –The General Lighthouse Authorities (GLAs) of the UK and Ireland have announced a £13M seven-year contract to PDG Helicopters for the provision of helicopter services to cover all three Authorities according to the PDG website here.

The provision of one helicopter supplier across the GLAs will deliver significant cost savings of around £7.9M to the General Lighthouse Fund, which pays for the safety critical work of the GLAs to provide a reliable, efficient and cost-effective Maritime Aids to Navigation service around the coast of UK and Ireland.

Until now each Authority has contracted its own helicopter service provider and co-ordinated its own activities. The decision to award a single tri-GLA contract for helicopter services is a first for the participating Authorities, who established a cross-GLA project team to manage the procurement process.

Helicopters have been contracted by the GLAs since the 1970's for the transportation of personnel to remote and difficult-to-access sites and for specialised operations to transport materials to and from their support vessels and lighthouses.

PDG Helicopters is one of the UK and Ireland's leading helicopter providers. PDG operates an extensive fleet of modern aircraft and will deploy two Eurocopter EC 135 aircraft to fulfill the contract requirements. Headquartered in Scotland PDG has operating bases across the United Kingdom and Ireland from which it flies over 11,000 hours a year supporting a wide range of onshore and offshore markets. The new seven year contract, with an extension option for up to a further three years, will commence in December 2015 allowing existing contracts to complete and for a period of training and familiarisation.

The projected flying hours across the GLAs will be around 1,000 per annum - the number of flying hours has reduced over recent years - in part achieved through the improved engineering of remote lights giving greater reliability and reduced maintenance burden created by the ongoing work to introduce solar power and LED lights but also through more effective and collaborative planning across the GLAs.

Deployment of the helicopter will be co-ordinated by the three lighthouse authorities, working in collaboration. The GLAs will consult on PDG Helicopters work plans and align the helicopter services in the most efficient and effective manner to meet their operational requirements. However, by the very nature of the safety critical work of the GLAs, an agreed contingency procedure will be put in place to allow the Authorities to deal with any immediate or short-notice high priority tasking.

Captain Ian McNaught, Deputy Master of Trinity House said "This single contract demonstrates the GLAs willingness to adapt and change working practices collaboratively in order to develop best practice and reduce operating costs. It makes a positive contribution to the achievement of real cost reduction whilst continuing to deliver the essential network of aids to navigation the GLAs provide to the maritime community in the UK and Ireland. A potential saving of £7.9M is something the GLAs are extremely pleased to report to its stakeholders."

Mike Bullock, Chief Executive of the Northern Lighthouse Board said "Helicopters provide an essential capability for the GLAs as they allow both personnel and material to be delivered to difficult to access sites in remote and often hostile environments. With safety considerations at the forefront of the procurement process, we have looked very closely at the type and capability of helicopter to ensure we provide a reliable and safe means of access to and from our sites."

Yvonne Shields, Chief Executive of the Commissioners of Irish Lights said "We are pleased to be working with PDG Helicopters. Over recent years the EC 135 has already proved its capabilities by carrying out operations for two of the GLAs under separate contracts and PDG Helicopters, through its subsidiary Irish Helicopters, has successfully worked with the Commissioners of Irish Lights since the 1970's so we are aware of the service they provide and we look forward to continue working with them under the new contract."

At the contract signing Jerry Francis, Chief Executive of PDG Helicopters said "We are delighted to be awarded the GLA Helicopter Service Contract and are proud to be supporting them in the delivery of their statutory duty for the safety of the mariner. In working closely with clients to deliver a truly bespoke helicopter service and by responding quickly to our clients needs we continue to build on our reputation and commitment to safety. The award of this contract is a natural progression from working exclusively with the Commissioners of Irish Lights and we look forward to extending this vital service across the entire United Kingdom and Ireland."

Published in Lighthouses

#lighthouse – In 1514, Henry VIII granted the Corporation of Trinity House a royal charter establishing it as an authority in maritime matters within his kingdom. Later its remit was expanded to include responsibility for the provision and maintenance of aids to navigation. 500 years later the organization is still responsible for the operation of lighthouses around England, Wales and the Channel Islands. Though automated now, these lighthouses are maintained in all their unique and idiosyncratic splendour, proving popular architectural landmarks with locals and visitors alike.

To celebrate Trinity House's quincentenary, this beautiful photographic book features the best photography from the Corporation's own archive, much of which has never been seen by the public before. The fascinating images seek to show some of the unusual diversity of the ancient, complex and somewhat misunderstood institution, with accompanying passages to describe what happened during those five eventful centuries.

This photographic account of these iconic structures dotted around the most vulnerable stretches of coastline is to be treasured by anyone who finds the haunting beam of a lighthouse at sea an immensely comforting sight, as well as walkers and families for whom a lighthouse on the landscape is a completely irresistible draw.

Neil Jones is the Records Manager for Trinity House. Responsible for marshalling the Corporation's history, archives and artefacts, he uses these often unique resources to create exhibitions and publications that highlight this fascinating history and helps others further their interests in lighthouses, navigation, genealogy and British maritime history.

Paul Ridgway's association with Trinity House goes back four decades. During this time he has contributed to, or edited, Trinity House publications including its celebrated journal Flash. For nearly a quarter of a century he edited the Bulletin of the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Services (IALA).

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#loophead – One of Clare's newest and most popular tourism attractions, Loop Head Lighthouse has recorded an increase in visitor numbers this summer compared to 2013.

New figures show that the expansion of services at Shannon Airport and the designation of the West Clare tourism landmark as one of the discovery points along the route of the Wild Atlantic Way is having a positive impact on visitor numbers.

Figures released today by Clare County Council, which manages the facility in conjunction with the Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL), reveal that 7,732 people have visited the 19th century lighthouse since it was opened for the summer period in late April, representing a 4% increase on the same period in 2013.

The local authority says 57% of the total visitor figure was represented by domestic visitors, with North America, Germany and the United Kingdom accounting for 10%, 9% and 6% of the overall figure respectively. Italian and French visitors meanwhile, represent just over 5% of the total figure.

Martin Gleeson, Supervisor at Loop Head Lighthouse commented: "This is fantastic news for the Lighthouse and the wider Loop Head Peninsula when you consider we are only now entering the peak tourism season. The launch of the Wild Atlantic Way, the development of new services at Shannon Airport, and the upgrading of visitor facilities at the lighthouse have been significant contributory factors to the growth in visitors. There is a noticeable increase in visitors from Germany and North America with the French and Italian markets also appearing particularly strong."

"The success of the Loop Head Lighthouse visitor project is indicative of the wider Peninsula's increasing popularity as a sustainable, visitor destination," added Kathy Lordan, Tourism & Community, Clare County Council.

Ms. Lordan continued: "The Council maintains a positive working relationship with local communities and indeed, Loop Head Tourism in developing, managing and showcasing the wonderful tourism assets on offer at the Peninsula from Loophead Lighthouse to the Bridges of Ross to Kilkee Bay. I am sure the marketing of the Peninsula and continued investment in the local tourism infrastructure that numbers visiting the area will show further increases during the remainder of the summer season and in future years."

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.

Loop Head Lighthouse will remain open daily (10am-6pm) until the end of September. Admission, which includes the exhibition and guided tour of the site, is Adults (€5), Children (€2) and Family Passes for up to 2 adults + 3 children (€12). Visit www.loophead.ie or www.clare.ie for more information on Loop Head Lighthouse and the Loop Head Peninsula.

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#irishlights – The Nautical Institute, the international representative body for maritime professionals with 6,500 members worldwide, has elected Captain Robert McCabe, Director of Operations and Navigational Services for the Commissioners of Irish Lights as President of the Nautical Institute at its AGM in Sydney, Australia on 17th June 2014.

Congratulating Robert on his appointment, Yvonne Shields, Chief Executive of CIL commented on the importance of the Nautical Institute, who are dedicated to ensuring high standards of professionalism and competence across the shipping industry. "Safety and Service are watchwords for both the Nautical Institute and CIL and it is a great opportunity for Ireland and for CIL to have Robert McCabe at the helm of such a key international body which has the potential to influence this vital global industry during a period of great change and opportunity. I am delighted that Robert has been honoured with this two year term and CIL are committed to supporting him to the fullest extent possible throughout".

Reflecting on the global nature of the marine industry Captain Robert McCabe commented, "it was interesting in Australia to see the authorities there implementing many of the same strategies adopted by CIL such as Real and Virtual AIS AtoN, modern light sources, and e-Navigation. I know my time as NI President will benefit both CIL and NI. Safe and efficient marine transport is vital to Ireland's economy and to our coastal environment. High standards ashore and afloat are common issues for the NI and for CIL".

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago

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