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Planning Approval for Loop Head Lighthouse Tourism Development

29 April 2024

An Bord Pleanála has granted planning approval to Clare County Council for the development of new visitor experience facilities at Loop Head Lighthouse Visitor Experience in County Clare.

Loop Head Lighthouse

The proposed development features new visitor centre facilities, a Looped Walking Trail network, the construction of a new visitors’ carpark, the conservation of two Keeper’s Cottages, the installation of wayfinding signage, and the upgrade of the existing wastewater system.
Steeped in history and rich in maritime heritage with its origins dating back to the 1670s, Loop Head Lighthouse is one of two “Signature Discovery Points” in County Clare along the route of the Wild Atlantic Way at the mouth of Shannon Estuary. It also is a landmark location on the Loop Head Heritage Trail and is one of 16 Great Lighthouses of Ireland. The lighthouse was converted to automatic operation in 1991 and was first opened to the public by Clare County Council and the Commissioner of Irish Lights in 2011.
Councillor Gabriel Keating, Leas-Chathaoirleach of Clare County Council, said the proposed development, which is subject to the necessary funding being secured, will generate “significant, positive dividends” for surrounding communities on Loop Head Peninsula in terms of profile and the local economy.
“The focus on building a visitor attraction that is both sustainable and in keeping with the ethos of slow tourism is key,” added the Leas-Chathaoirleach. “I am happy to see that sustainability is at the heart of the future plans for the site. I want to acknowledge the contribution of Loop Head Tourism, local landowners and the wider community as well as my own Council colleagues, particularly my fellow members of West Clare Municipal District (MD).”
Pat Dowling, Chief Executive of Clare County Council, stated, “Loop Head Lighthouse is one of Clare’s best known heritage attractions and has been the subject of considerable investment by the Department of Rural and Community Development through RRDF funding as well as from Clare County Council in recent years. The proposed new development is subject to additional funding being secured and if successful, we are committed to delivering a project that will encourage the public to experience the rich heritage and history that stems from the lighthouse and the communities of the surrounding peninsula.”
Mr Dowling noted how extensive engagement with Elected Members, key stakeholders, State agencies and the local community, including landowners, has been key to securing planning permission for the visitor project.
Yvonne Shields O’Connor, CEO, Commissioners of Irish Lights, highlighted that “Our partnership with Clare County Council is a fantastic example of how Irish Lights is working with key stakeholders to create a vibrant and exciting tourism experience at one of our most beautiful lighthouses on the Loop Head Peninsula, while protecting and sharing our heritage and history for the benefit of tourism communities around the Clare coast. Since the opening of Loop Head Lighthouse, it has attracted over 25,000 visitors per year and this new visitor centre will help attract even more of the ever-growing community of lighthouse enthusiasts that visit or stay at the Great Lighthouses of Ireland around our coast. I would like to acknowledge Clare County Council’s ongoing commitment to develop tourism infrastructure around the lighthouse, complementing their recent investment in the dwellings onsite which adds a whole new dimension to tourism on the Loop Head Peninsula.”
“Under the County Clare Tourism Strategy and the Clare Rural Development Strategy, 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,” explained Leonard Cleary, Director of Tourism Development and West Clare MD.
He continued, “Loop Head Lighthouse has proven to be one of the tourism success stories for County Clare in recent years and has helped to strengthen the profile, both nationally and internationally, of the wider Loop Head Peninsula and what it has to offer as a tourism destination. We look forward to progressing this project and delivering a tourism product that the local community can be rightly proud of.”
The approved development includes the construction of a single storey building extension providing additional and enhanced visitor facilities, including a reception area, entrance lobby, café with seating area, public toilets and a covered walkway leading to the Loop Head Looped Walking Trail. Featuring six designated viewing points, the trail network will guide visitors around the headland via four looped walking trails ranging from 0.9 kilometres to 4.5 kilometres in length.
A new visitor car park along the R487 Regional Road will provide new public car parking spaces, and bicycle and EV charging spaces. The new car park also will feature an access control kiosk building comprising a reception, entrance lobby, public toilets, and visitor information signage and orientation. The existing car parking area will be reconfigured to provide staff car parking spaces and bicycle spaces.
Clare County Council says vehicular, pedestrian and cyclist access to the site will be maintained via the R487 and will be enhanced by associated traffic calming measures and designated pedestrian and cycling priority zones.
Meanwhile, the Visitor Centre at Loop Head has reopened for the 2024 tourist season. In addition, Loop Head Lighthouse Visitor Centre plans to open the newly refurbished Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage as a self-catering accommodation offering for the Summer Season 2024. Further details and online bookings are available through


Loop Head Lighthouse in County Clare. Photo: AirSwing Media / Visit Clare.

Page last reviewed: 29/04/24

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