Green Party rep Hannah McNamara calls on Irish Lights to visit abandoned lighthouse with her

Wednesday February 28 2018

Green Party Rep for Bangor East & Donaghadee, Hannah McNamara, has invited a representative of Irish Lights to visit Mew Island with her to document the condition of the lighthouse. 

Hannah, the daughter of one of the last lighthouse attendants for the lighthouse in the Copeland Islands, has appealed to the owners of the island to preserve the listed building following the removal of its historic optic.

Earlier this week, Hannah discussed the condition of the lighthouse with Captain Robert McCabe from the Irish Lights on BBC Radio Ulster’s Evening Extra and says she would now like to explore ways to protect the building with Irish Lights.

“After speaking with Captain Robert McCabe from the Irish Lights on Monday night, I am optimistic that the organisation is taking an interest in the issue.  However, I am still not reassured that everything in their power is being done to protect the island,” the Green Party rep said.

“Several more questions have now been raised after speaking with Captain McCabe and I intend to write to him to get answers. I have several reliable sources that have stated that the daytime aids to navigation have been removed from the island, despite Captain McCabe stating that the Irish Lights to his knowledge did not remove them.

“I would also like to know what maintenance work has so far taken place on the island and do they have any planned for the future?

“I would love for the organisation to come with me to the island so that we can document the state the island is in. I am keen to build a relationship with the Irish Lights and work together with the local community in Donaghadee to ensure a positive outcome.

“The Irish Lights is a well-known organisation in town with many people being employed by them in the past and I want to continue that good relationship.

General views of the Copeland Islands and the Lighthouse on 23rd February 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

“I understand that funding is an issue for many organisations. However I am aware that 12 lighthouses have been saved and restored under the “Great Lighthouses of Ireland” scheme.

“These lighthouses, including St John’s Point in County Down, are now open to the public and many have overnight accommodation, visitors centres and guided tours.

“I am aware that there is an added difficulty with the Mew being on an island so far off the coast, but with safe navigational aids replaced and plentiful boat charters from Donaghadee and other local harbours, life could be restored to the Mew Island and its wonderful historic buildings.”

Mew Island is one of the Copeland Islands, situated off the coast of Donaghadee. The lighthouse was built in 1884 and automated in 1996. Its historic rare Fresnel-lens optic that had been in place since 1928 was removed in 2014 after Commissioners for Irish Lights made the decision to update the workings of the lighthouse to solar-powered LEDs.

The optic is to be installed as “The Great Light” exhibition at Titanic Belfast.

Notes to editors:
Hannah McNamara was born and raised in Donaghadee and comes from a family steeped in maritime history. Her great grandfather, John Trimble, was part of the RNLI crew of the Sir Samuel Kelly who rescued passengers from the MV Princess Victoria. Her grandfather, William Lennon BEM, was Coxswain of the Donaghadee Lifeboat and retired after 37 ½ years’ service. Her mother, Ruth McNamara (nee Lennon) was the first woman on an off-shore lifeboat crew in the UK and was joined by her father Shane McNamara (now Mechanic) and Uncle Philip McNamara (now Coxswain).
Hannah’s father, Shane McNamara, was the first lighthouse attendant at Mew Island in 1995/1996 around when the lighthouse became fully automated on 29th March 1996. The last lighthouse “keepers” left at this time.
Hannah is a keen sailor and worked as a sailing instructor at Donaghadee Sailing Club in her youth. She is now an Officer for the Combined Cadet Force (Royal Navy Section) and holds the rank of Sub-Lieutenant CCF RNR.
Photos: Courtesy of the Belfast Telegraph


Media Contact: Linda Stewart

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