Figures released today by Clare County Council, which manages the facility in conjunction with the Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL), reveal that a record 20,368 people visited the 19th century lighthouse.
61% of the total visitor figure was represented by Irish visitors, with North America, the United Kingdom (UK) and Germany each accounting for 8% of the overall figure. Italian and French visitors meanwhile, represented just over 5% of the total figure.
Gerard Dollard, Director of Services, Tourism & Community, Clare County Council said visitor numbers at the lighthouse were buoyed by the development of new services at Shannon Airport, favourable weather conditions during September, and the launch of the Wild Atlantic Way.
“Loop Head Lighthouse is now finishing its fourth year of operation as a visitor attraction. During this time, it has become firmly established as one of Clare’s most popular visitor attractions,” he said.
Mr. Dollard continued: “Visitor numbers in 2014 have been very much helped by the launch of additional services to and from Shannon Airport and the strong start-up promotion of the Wild Atlantic Way. Of particular notice has been the very strong visitor numbers during the month of September which was no doubt helped by the very fine weather but also by large numbers of American visitors.”
“In 2014, the Council provided additional toilet facilities at the site and upgraded and improved the car park area. We will now review the season and examine what further improvements and additional visitor experience can be put in place for 2015,” he concluded.
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. The Lighthouse is today one of the key discovery points along the route of the Wild Atlantic Way.