A new era dawns for Youghal’s lighthouse as the area receives a grant of €72,500 under the government’s Town and Village scheme to transform the sentinel into a visitor attraction.
In 2014 Irish Lights transferred ownership of its lighthouse to the Youghal Town Council as the borough had a legal obligation to maintain the structure, being a harbour authority.
Probably one of the best spots to take in the views of Youghal bay, the lighthouse has been identified as an area to hold picnics while taking in panoramic views of the harbour.
Municipal officer Helen Mulcahy and her team who were instrumental in securing the funding said “the proposal seeks to open Youghal Lighthouse as a unique amenity and attraction which will add to the suite of visitor experiences already on offer within the town of Youghal.”
Initially the local authority are seeking to create a development plan for the site which will require archeologically, architectural expertise as well as an interpretation plan for the Lighthouse.
In the short term the strategy is to open up the area around the lighthouse to the public where people could walk around it. The programme of work will also include the upgrade of the existing fencing to preserve the privacy of the adjacent lighthouse keeper’s cottage that is at present in private ownership.
Ms Mulcahy said the Municipal District are also exploring the potential for a viewing balcony to the front of the lighthouse which will allow for panoramic views of Youghal harbour.
Independent Councillor Mary Linehan Foley said the building had huge tourism potential suggesting it could be incorporated into a heritage walk.
The Youghal based Cllr said “Youghal Lighthouse has weathered the test of time and with thanks to this investment it will ensure this beacon will stand tall for future generations.”
Steeped in history the area was the site of a Franciscan Nunnery. These nuns were responsible for maintaining the light beacon in the 13th century.
The exact year of when the first Franciscans came to Youghal, is uncertain and some sources cite 1224, and others 1226. Either way both dates are close to the lifetime of St. Francis of Assisi.
The current lighthouse was built in 1850 and is constructed of granite.