One of the most iconic structures on the south-west coast has fallen into disrepair and should be urgently acquired by Cork County Council to be turned into a tourist attraction.
The mayor of County Cork, Christopher O’Sullivan, has called on his officials to take over the Baltimore Beacon, a lighthouse/lookout post built by the British government following the 1798 Rebellion, with a view to turning it into a tourist attraction.
It was part of a series of lighthouses and beacons dotted around the Irish coast, which formed a warning system.
The landmark stone building stands at the entrance to the harbour at Baltimore, and Mr O’Sullivan, a Fianna Fáil councillor, said it features on a lot of promotional literature produced by Fáilte Ireland.
The beacon is locally known as “Lot’s Wife”, after the Biblical woman who was turned into a pillar of salt.
Mr O’Sullivan said the building is currently owned by the Commissioners of Irish Lights, but it is of no use to them.
“I believe they will give it to us free of charge if we decide to take it over,” he told a meeting of the county council’s Western Division.
He said the most urgent thing needed to be done with the structure is to paint it as it has become very worn and grubby in recent years.
“There’s a line in Lord of the Rings ‘light the beacon’. My motto is ‘paint the beacon’. It’s iconic. It’s one of the top attractions in all of West Cork but it’s dirty and the paint is coming off it. Business owners who rely on tourism want something done about it,” said Mr O’Sullivan said.
“I’m pleading with the [council] executive to take it over. Fáilte Ireland use it in their promotional material and it might help us with the project.”
Fianna Fáil councillor Joe Carroll called for it to be “brought back to its original splendour”.” Fáilte Ireland could contribute to the maintenance of this beacon,” he added.
Mr Carroll said local volunteers painted it some years ago.Divisional manager Clodagh Henehan said that while the Commissioners of Irish Lights might own the building, it does not own land around it which would have to be accessed if the council was to take it over, which could be problematic.
However, she added that in the meantime it is likely that the West Cork Municipal District Council would provide a grant for repainting if any local volunteers are interested in sprucing it up.
Fine Gael councillor John O’Sullivan pointed out that a number of years ago the Commissioners for Irish Lights undertook to maintain the building and said in the meantime the council should write to them reminding them of this promise.