Ballycastle Sinn Féin Councillor, Cara McShane, has proposed a recommendation that Council will work with the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) on the development of the East Rathlin Lighthouse Tourism Project.
Speaking at the Council meeting tonight, Cllr Cara McShane said:
“The proposal to develop the East Lighthouse site, linking to all three lighthouses on Rathlin, has the potential to be a huge boost to the tourism product on the island. It is in keeping with Tourism NI’s research of providing a place where the visitor can ‘escape to the life of an islander’.
“The project will involve the renovation of the Lighthouse Keeper’s cottage and the restoration of the two semi-detached Lighthouse Keepers’ houses; bringing to life the three lighthouses in ways to maximise the visitor experience and portray the relationship between the islanders and the lighthouses, in what will be a very unique and stirring tourism product.
“After tonight’s agreement, Council will now be a joint partner, opening up opportunities to apply for funding from the Rural Development Programme Tourism Scheme, to help see this project come to fruition.
“This is another positive example of how central government and local government have been able to work together to deliver to the Rathlin Island policy and Action Plan, instigated by Minister Conor Murphy in his role as DfI Minister several years ago.
“The community have been involved in the Project Board for this proposal, which places the interests of the islanders at the heart of decision-making.
“We are delighted to come onboard as the local Council, to assist in maximising the tourism and economic benefits for Rathlin Island.”
Full detailed proposals:
The proposals include renovations to the Lighthouse Keepers cottage to provide a space where, for example, the story of the three lighthouses, Robert the Bruce, and the past innovation (Marconi) can be told, as well as potential future innovation and display / sale / production of island crafts. The renovation will include a space for refreshments which will allow the Lighthouse Tower and the wider site to be opened up to visitors.
Restore the two semi-detached Lighthouse Keepers houses so that visitors can experience life as a Lighthouse keeper on Rathlin including the potential to occupy the buildings for a short time and live as a lighthouse keepers’ family.
The buildings will also provide an opportunity to link the operation of the three lighthouses together. Build a walkway around the seaward facing exterior wall of the site, which will provide a unique experience of viewing the stunning clifftop scenery, the coast of Scotland and the sea channel as a lighthouse keeper would experience it, without necessarily having to climb the Tower (particularly important for those with limited mobility). This walkway would provide a means of displaying the living history of the three lighthouses and the relationship between the islanders and the lighthouses.
Improve the road access to the site for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians. Improve signage on the Island to better direct the flow of visitors around the three lighthouse experience.