Ham radio enthusiasts will convene in Loop Head Lighthouse in County Clare this week to connect up with fellow enthusiasts based at hundreds of lighthouses and lightships around the world.
The Limerick Radio Club, comprising members from Limerick, Clare, Kerry and Tipperary, will broadcast non-stop for 48 hours from the West Clare Lighthouse on August 17-18th as part of the 16th International Lighthouse /Lightship Weekend (ILLW).
During the broadcast, visitors to the lighthouse will be able to listen into communications with some of the other participating ham radio operators broadcasting from 400 other lighthouses and lightships in 50 countries.
Last year, Limerick Radio Club members based at Loop Head Lighthouse successfully connected with fellow enthusiasts as far away as Hawaii and Australia.
The annual event, which is sponsored of the Ayr Amateur Radio Group (AARG) in Scotland, is always held on the third full weekend in August starting at 0001 UTC on Saturday and finishing at 2359 UTC on Sunday. It also coincides on the Sunday with International Lighthouse Day, an event organised by the Association of Lighthouse Keepers whereby many world lighthouses are open to the public for the day.
Clare County Council, along and the Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL), has facilitated the broadcast from Loop Head Lighthouse by the Limerick Radio Club. The Club has also received approval from the Communications Regulator.
Simon Kenny, Chairperson of Limerick Radio Club, explained: “Once again we are hoping to open long distance communications with regions in Asia, through Europe, North and South America, Australia and New Zealand. A special QSL Card (confirmation of communication) has been designed to mark the event. The club will operate two stations, one of which will be at the entrance to the Lighthouse so members of the public can listen to some of the transmissions. Our web site is www.limerickradioclub.ie.”
Gerard Dollard, Director of Services, Clare County Council described the International Lighthouse /Lightship Weekend as a “wonderful way to connect and promote the shared maritime heritage of countries throughout the world”.
“We are delighted to lend our support to this initiative. In 2012, the Limerick Radio Club helped to further raise the profile of Loop Head Lighthouse through its conversations over the airwaves with fellow ham radio operators internationally. We wish the members of Limerick Radio Club the very best of luck over the weekend,” added Mr. Dollard.
Loop Head Lighthouse, located at the mouth of the Shannon Estuary, is steeped in history and rich in maritime heritage with its origins dating back to the 1670s. 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 in the care of an attendant and is also monitored by the CIL.
The 19th century lighthouse was opened for a third successive season in mid-March and will remain open to the public each day from 10am until 7.30pm until August 25th. More than 8.000 people, 25% of whom came from abroad, visited the lighthouse during June and July.