Lighthouse tours to be extended

CLARE County Council has confirmed plans to extend the visitor access to the Loop Head Lighthouse until October following a massive response to its recent opening to the public.

The lighthouse, which was opened in July for the first time in 341 years, has seen more than 12,000 visitors coming to the site at Clare’s most westerly point.

The first lighthouse on Loop Head was one of four known Irish stone-vaulted cottage-type lights, built about 1670. The beacon fell into disuse towards the end of the 17th century but was re-established in 1720.

When Clare County Council opened the doors to the 19th century building as part of a trial visitor scheme last month, it was planned to continue until the end of August.

Now, after the massive response to the opening of the lighthouse, the council says the tours will continued until October 2.

The council’s director of services, Gerard Dollard, said: “The Loop Head initiative has been extremely successful over a very short period of time. This clearly demonstrates the quality of the Loop Head area as a focal point for tourism.

“The trial has also generated a number of ideas regarding the future tourist product in the area. We propose to review the success of the initiative in early October and together with Loop Head Tourism and Shannon Development develop a wider tourist offering for 2012 and future years”.

Cllr Oliver Garry, chairman of the West Clare Task Force, said the project gave a boost to the area’s tourism.

“The extension of the visitor access trial offers visitors to the area another tourist attraction to enjoy during the course of their visit,” Mr Garry added.

The Loop Head Lighthouse will now remain open seven days a week from 10am to 5.30pm until Sunday, October 2. Guided tours of the lighthouse are available and cost €3 per person. There is no charge for children under 12.

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