Fanad Head Lighthouse on the northern tip of Ireland, surrounded by Mulroy Bay and Lough Swilly, has opened its doors to guided tours and unique self-catering accommodation. 

GLI Fanad

Standing 22m and overlooking the Atlantic, the latest lighthouse to open under the Great Lighthouses of Ireland brand, will be managed by local community group, Forbairt Fhánada Teoranta.

“Irish Lights has a long and rich history and connection to the coast and its communities. We have and continue to provide an important navigation service around the coast of Ireland, and Fanad Lighthouse is an important navigation aid on the north coast,” remarked Yvonne Sheilds, Irights chief executive.

In 2012 the agency approached the local community with the idea of refurbishing the lighthouse as a tourism initiative. A partnership of public and private sector interests was formed and worked as a team to invest in and to create the visitor experience.

“The project gives people the opportunity to see and stay in a working lighthouse and to contribute to the preservation of our rich maritime heritage on the wild Atlantic way,” she added.

John Friel, Forbairt Fhánada Teoranta, hopes the lighthouse will be a “catalyst for development in the cultural and economic life of the area. 

“We are very grateful to Irish Lights for their ongoing support and help, as well as Donegal County Council, Donegal Tourism, Údaras na Gaeltachta and Fáilte Ireland.”

The project was funded by the EU INTERREG IVA cross-border programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes body SEUPB.

“This is an innovative cross-border project which will attract a new generation of domestic and overseas visitors into the region. Tourism was a key feature of INTERREG IVA as the programme provided support to a wide-range of projects that have drawn on the natural environment to create world-class tourist offerings,” remarked Gina McIntyre, chief executive of SEUPB.

“I’m delighted to see that through the redevelopment of Fanad Head Lighthouse, EU funding has been able to conserve part of our precious maritime history, and encourage visitors to share in this experience.”

Fanad Head is part of the Great Lighthouses of Ireland initiative and is a ‘signature discovery point’ along the Wild Atlantic Way. 

The opening also marked the start of the Shine a Light on Summer festival at seven lighthouses around the coast over the May Bank Holiday weekend, supported by Fáilte Ireland.