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Loop Head Lighthouse at Mouth of Shannon Estuary to Get New Visitor Facilities with Clare County Council Planning Approval

26th April 2024
Loop Head Lighthouse on the Shannon Estuary is already a popular tourist destination, and the proposed development is sure to attract even more visitors in the years to come
Loop Head Lighthouse on the Shannon Estuary is already a popular tourist destination, and the proposed development is sure to attract even more visitors in the years to come Credit: AirSwing Media

Clare County Council has been granted planning approval to develop new visitor facilities at Loop Head Lighthouse Visitor Experience at the mouth of the Shannon Estuary in County Clare.

This proposed development will feature new visitor centre facilities, a Looped Walking Trail network, a new visitors’ carpark, the conservation of two Keeper’s Cottages, the installation of wayfinding signage, and the upgrade of the existing wastewater system.

Loop Head Lighthouse is one of two “Signature Discovery Points” in County Clare along the route of the Wild Atlantic Way, and is a landmark location on the Loop Head Heritage Trail. It is also one of 12 Great Lighthouses of Ireland. The lighthouse was converted to automatic operation in 1991 and was first opened to the public by Clare County Council and the Commissioner of Irish Lights in 2011.

Councillor Gabriel Keating, Leas Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council said the proposed development, which is subject to the necessary funding being secured, will generate “significant, positive dividends” for surrounding communities on Loop Head peninsula in terms of profile and the local economy.

“The focus on building a visitor attraction that is both sustainable and in keeping with the ethos of slow tourism is key,” added the Leas Cathaoirleach. “I am happy to see that sustainability is at the heart of the future plans for the site. I want to acknowledge the contribution of Loop Head Tourism, local landowners and the wider community as well as my own Council colleagues, particularly my fellow members of West Clare Municipal District (MD).”

Loop Head Lighthouse in County Clare. Photo: AirSwing MediaLoop Head Lighthouse in County Clare. Photo: AirSwing Media

The Chief Executive of Clare County Council, Pat Dowling, stated that “Loop Head Lighthouse is one of Clare’s best known heritage attractions and has been the subject of considerable investment by the Department of Rural Community Development through RRDF funding as well as from Clare County Council in recent years. The proposed new development is subject to additional funding being secured and if successful, we are committed to delivering a project that will encourage the public to experience the rich heritage and history that stems from the lighthouse and the communities of the surrounding Peninsula.”

The approved development includes the construction of a single storey building extension providing additional and enhanced visitor facilities, including a reception area, entrance lobby, café with seating area, public toilets and a covered walkway leading to the Loop Head Looped Walking Trail. Featuring six designated viewing points, the trail network will guide visitors around the headland via four looped walking trails ranging from 0.9 kilometres to 4.5 kilometres in length.

A new visitor car park along the R487 Regional Road will provide new public car parking spaces, and bicycle and EV charging spaces. The new car park also will feature an access control kiosk building comprising a reception, entrance lobby, public toilets, and visitor information signage and orientation. The existing car parking area will be reconfigured to provide staff car parking spaces and bicycle spaces.

Clare County Council says vehicular, pedestrian and cyclist access to the site will be maintained via the R487 and will be enhanced by associated traffic calming measures and designated pedestrian and cycling priority zones.

The Visitor Centre at Loop Head has reopened for the 2024 tourist season. In addition, Loop Head Lighthouse Visitor Centre plans to open the newly refurbished Lighthouse Keepers Cottage as a self-catering accommodation offering for the Summer Season 2024. 

This development is expected to bring in more tourists to County Clare, which will not only help the local economy but also strengthen the profile of the region. The focus on sustainability is commendable, and the commitment of Clare County Council to deliver a tourism product that the local community can be proud of is impressive. Team

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Irish Lighthouses

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Irish Lights is responsible for providing marine aids to navigation under the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention. This remit includes: providing and maintaining over 300 general aids to navigation, managing about 4,000 local aids to navigation and marking or removing dangerous wrecks outside harbour areas around Ireland. Irish Lights also provides contract commercial services for ship charter, buoy and marine data services and supports tourism and heritage activities.

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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
The Great Light and Titanic Walkway, Belfast
Hook, Co Wexford
Ballycotton, Co Cork
Galley Head, Co Cork
Valentia Island, Co Kerry
Loop Head, Co Clare
Clare Island, Co Mayo
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