Minister Donohoe announces €990K for Connemara Discovery Point on Wild Atlantic Way  

4th December, 2014

Stories of Marconi Wireless Station and first air crossing of Atlantic to be brought to life to attract visitors


The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD, today (Thursday) announced €990,000 in funding for the development of an improved visitor experience at Derrygimlagh, Connemara, Co, Galway; one of the key 15 Signature Discovery Points along the route of the Wild Atlantic Way.


The money, allocated from Fáilte Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way capital programme, will significantly enhance the site which was the setting for two outstanding technological achievements of the 20th century: the Marconi Wireless Station, the world’s first commercial transatlantic wireless station in 1907; and twelve years later (in 1919) when Alcock and Brown landed on the site marking the first nonstop, trans-Atlantic flight.


Speaking today, Minister Donohoe said: ‘History was made not once but twice at this rugged outpost overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, yet, today, you would hardly know it. This investment will allow us to bring that history to life and turn what is currently a curiosity into a ‘must-visit’ destination along Ireland’s newest attraction, the Wild Atlantic Way’.


“Our new touring route is already proving popular at home and overseas but, if it is to deliver the increased visitors and revenue we want, we need to bring the local stories alive. Today’s funding marks another chapter in that work.”


The proposed improvements to the Derrygimlagh Discovery Point include a purpose built car and coach park facility with a significant sculpture to celebrate the world’s first transatlantic flight in the car park. Other developments will include a picnic area and a looped walk on existing bog road with six key stops providing opportunities for visitors to engage first hand with the stories of the site including the unique landscape and flora and fauna.


Funding will also be used to create interpretive elements proposed including informative steel and glass text display units highlighting unique aspects at each stop point, photographic displays and a selection of interactive sound devices (including crystal radios) to create a ‘hands-on’ visitor experience.


Fáilte Ireland’s Head of the Wild Atlantic Way, Fiona Monaghan emphasised: ‘This project will put in place another significant piece of the our Wild Atlantic Way jigsaw. The story here in Derrygimlagh, if brought alive, has the potential to act as a strong magnet for visitors to come to Connemara and even extend the length of the tourism season in this area’.


“As Alcock and Brown did over a century ago, we hope that with today’s investment and the on-going evolution of the Wild Atlantic Way, many other travellers will choose to land here in years to come.”



Note for Editors

Project Overview:

The development of a Visitor Experience at Derrygimlagh, Connemara, Co Galway, will bring to life one of the 15 Signature Discovery Points along the route of the Wild Atlantic Way.  This site was the setting for two outstanding technological achievements of the 20th century. The first was the Marconi Wireless Station, the world’s first commercial transatlantic wireless station in 1907. Twelve years later, in 1919, aviation history was made when Captain John Alcock and Lieutenant Arthur Whitten Brown landed on the site after the first nonstop, Trans-Atlantic flight.


Marconi Wireless Station:

The site at Derrygimlagh was chosen by Marconi not only for its geographical position on the most western edge of Europe on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean but also because of the surrounding bog that provided the energy that powered the station in the form of turf.  The Marconi Radio Station was operational from 1905 until it was closed in 1923 following damage sustained during the Irish Civil Way.  At peak times, the radio station employed over 50 people including scientists, wireless operators, engineers and guards.  Among the wireless operators based at the site in Derrygimlagh was Jack Philips, who subsequently was the Chief Radio Operator on the Titanic.  In addition to specialist roles, numerous local people were also employed at the site to maintain the domestic activities of cooking and cleaning and cutting the turf that supplied the station’s energy.


Alcock & Brown:

On June 15th, 1919, Alcock and Brown landed nose down in Derrygimlagh Bog, close to Marconi’s transatlantic wireless station after a harrowing sixteen hour flight from St. John’s, Newfoundland.  It was the first non-stop transatlantic flight and forged an exciting new link between the old and the new worlds.  As they made landfall at the entrance to Clifden Bay, Brown remembered Alcock’s breezy pre departure remarks “We shall hang our hats on the aerials of the Clifden Wireless Station as we go by”.  A number of the Marconi staff were the first on the scene of the crash landing.  Literally overnight – because Marconi’s station messaged the news to the world – Alcock & Brown were international heroes and “yesterday we were in America” became a catch phrase.  No other airplane was to repeat their non-stop crossing for another eight years.