The people of Valentia in Kerry deserve to be applauded for marking the 150th anniversary of the laying of the first working transatlantic cable between Ireland and America and for campaigning to make it a world heritage centre.
Its effect on global communications was so dramatic that a message which up to then had taken two weeks to pass between London and New York, only took two minutes.
Once described as the eighth wonder of the world, the laying of the 4,000-mile long cable ranks among the most important events of that era or of any age. The fresh focus brought to bear on this marvel of engineering by the islanders a century and a half later lends considerable weight to calls for Valentia to be declared a World Heritage Centre. It is astonishing to think that this country, with all its stunning beauty, has only two sites worthy of being ranked by Unesco in the world heritage class, namely the Giants’ Causeway — a spectacular work of nature — and the Skelligs, a place of prayer.
As professor Alexander Gillespie of Waikato University in New Zealand points out in his timely article, Valentia should be highlighted by Ireland as part of a revolution in tourism. He argues that the people of Valentia should also cash in on this phenomenon on their doorstep. Basically his message is that Ireland can exploit the island in relation to the Industrial Revolution. Tourism Minister Shane Ross should read it and heed what he has to say.
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