Roche’s Point Lighthouse to open to public for first time
About 1,500 visitors expected at Cork landmark ahead of exhibition on US navy arrival
The opening of Roche’s Point Lighthouse in Cork next weekend will feature an exhibition on the US Navy’s arrival into Cobh in 1917. Photograph: Gerd Fahrenhorst/Wikimedia Commons
It has stood like a silent sentinel at the mouth of Cork Harbour for two centuries and now for the first time in its history, Roche’s Point Lighthouse is going to be opened to the public.
Noel Condon of Cork Harbour Heritage Alliance paid tribute to the Commissioner of Irish Lights for agreeing to open up the landmark to the public on June 4th when it is expected that some 1,500 people will avail of the chance to visit.
“When you think about it, Roche’s Point would have been the last sight of Cork and of Ireland that many emigrants would have had either going to the United States in the 19th and 20th century or going to Britain all through the 20th century so it’s hugely symbolic for so many people,” he said.
“As well as that it has huge history attached to it – the Titanic moored off Roche’s Point on its ill-fated maiden voyage and it was to the wireless station at Roche’s Point that the Lusitania sent its SOS message after it was torpedoed off the Old Head of Kinsale on May 7th, 1915.”
The sinking of the Lusitania was a critical factor in the entry of the US into the first World War and the opening of Roche’s Point Lighthouse next weekend will feature an exhibition on the US Navy’s arrival into Cobh – or Queenstown as it was then – in April 1917.
Commander Joseph K Taussig led the first six destroyers that arrived in Queenstown.
Of the town, he wrote: “The streets were full of curious people and there seemed to me a great many men for a country supposed to be at war. I have learned since that the Irish people have generally held aloof from any participation in the war and do not consider themselves party to it.”
The exhibition on the US Navy in Cork and the opening of the lighthouse are just two of more than 60 events scheduled to take place as part of this year’s Cork Harbour Festival which runs from June 3rd to June 11th.
Among the highlights of this year’s festival is the Ocean to City – An Rás Mór, on Saturday, June 10th, when hundreds of rowers in more than 200 traditional crafts from all over the world will race from Roche’s Point right into the heart of the city.