The historic lighthouse keeper’s cottages at Loop Head are set to undergo renovation works as part of an overall project plan for the sustainable development of the popular West Clare visitor attraction.
The renovation works to the cottages, which are in existence since circa 1850, will involve the conservation works to the semi-detached building at Loop Head to include the repair of the existing roof and sash windows and making safe the electrical works internally. Custy Construction has been contracted by Clare County Council to carry out the works.
Loop Head Lighthouse is steeped in history and is rich in maritime heritage, with its origins dating back to the 1670s. Located at the mouth of Shannon Estuary, the existing tower style lighthouse was constructed in 1854 and was operated and maintained by a keeper who lived within the lighthouse compound. In January 1991, the lighthouse was converted to automatic operation, and today is monitored by the Commissioner of Irish Lights.
Loop Head Lighthouse has attracted tens of thousands of visitors since it first opened to the public in 2011. The attraction has been closed to the public since 2020 to facilitate a large-scale renovation project complemented by the successful implementation of a 1.7km installation of a water main pipe to the lighthouse, which up to now has no mains water connection in its history. The project is funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development’s Rural Regeneration Development Funding (RRDF) scheme as part of Project Ireland 2040.
Meanwhile, Clare County Council says plans are currently underway to submit to An Bord Pleanála the design of an enhanced visitor attraction within the compound of the lighthouse. The plans include an upgrade to the wastewater treatment system and a visitor management plan for the area to ensure that all development aids the conservation objectives of the Special Area of Conservation in the Loop Head Peninsula.
Welcoming the news, Councillor PJ Ryan, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, said: “Loop Head Lighthouse has helped to strengthen the profile, both nationally and internationally, of the wider Loop Head Peninsula and its offering as a tourism destination.”
“Under the Clare Tourism Strategy 2030 and the Clare Rural Development Strategy 2026, Clare County Council is committed to identifying opportunities to sustainably develop our tourism infrastructure in a way that benefits the rural regeneration of our towns and villages and protects the wonderful natural environment that visitors want to experience. There has never been a more important time for such sustainable tourism development to take place as Clare strives to recover post-Covid,” added the Cathaoirleach.
Pat Dowling, Chief Executive of Clare County Council, acknowledged the collaborative cross-agency and community support for the project which, he said, “underlines the importance of placing communities and their wellbeing at the heart of tourism developments.”
Mr Dowling continued: “The progress in further expanding and improving the sustainable tourism development offering at Loop Head Lighthouse, which will benefit the wider peninsula, could not be achieved without engagement with key stakeholders including Elected Members, Loop Head Tourism, the Department of Rural and Community Development, Fáilte Ireland, the Commissioner of Irish Lights and the National Parks & Wildlife Service. The delivery of an enhanced visitor attraction will help ongoing local efforts to ensure County Clare is at the forefront of sustainability and innovation in rural tourism within Ireland and beyond.”
Loop Head Lighthouse is one of two “Signature Discovery Points” in County Clare along the route of the Wild Atlantic Way. It also is a landmark location on the Loop Head Heritage Trail and is one of 12 Great Lighthouses of Ireland.