This location follows the story of radio communications at Mizen Head Signal Station. Marconi was in nearby Crookhaven during his search for a suitable site to send the first transatlantic message. He had masts at Brow Head and put a telegraphic transmitter on the Fastnet Rock Lighthouse. A recent storm took all the sand out of Galley Cove and exposed the huge cables that connected the Fastnet with his radio room in Crookhaven. In 1931 Mizen Head Signal Station had the first radio Beacon in Ireland - it spanned the whole gorge at the Bridge. The visitors center room is dedicated to Marconi's fabulous story.
The Mizen Head Peninsula is the farthest southwesterly point in Ireland. In 2003, Reader's Digest voted this area one of the '100 Amazing Places of Britain and Ireland'.
The 100 year old Mizen Head Lighthouse is perched on the edge of a steep cliff above the sea and was once a fully manual lighthouse. Now automated, it's open to the public as a museum.
Mizen is also known as 'Ireland's Lands End'. From here, the first Transatlantic Signal was sent by Marconi. As you look out from Mizen Head -there is nothing but Atlantic between you and America!. The Mizen boasts the finest cliff scenery in West Cork with panoramic views over the famous Fastnet Lighthouse.
Sgr. Guglielmo Marconi came to the Mizen peninsula to try to get his first radio message across the Atlantic. He had arrived in England in 1896 and filed the world's first patent application for a system of telegraphy using Hertzian waves. The British patent was granted on June 2nd. In 1897 he established contact across the Bristol Channel and the Solent (from the Isle of Wight to Bournemouth) He formed The Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company. It was at this stage that, desperate to get a signal across the Atlantic Ocean, he was searching for a suitable site for his masts and he came to Mizen and the village of Crookhaven. He erected a high mast in the grounds of the presently named Marconi House, but he didn't have any success with it. However, this did not end his connection with the Mizen Peninsula.
In 1902 a telegraphic station was established using a coherer receiver. Marconi brought wireless operators from England with him.
In 1904 utilising the network of communications that existed here already, Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Co. Ltd. entered into a contract with the Commissioners of Irish Lights to put telegraphic equipment and aerials on the Fastnet. The telegraphic station was moved up to Brow Head where the signalling equipment had been used for so long to contact passing ships. Messages were sent to the Fastnet Rock Lighthouse by signalling methods and then relayed to the Brow Head station by wireless telegraphy for relaying on to the recipients in the U.K. or Northern European owners.
At first, very few ships had telegraphic equipment on board. 50 messages were considered a great feat, but the development in wireless telegraphy was gaining pace so quickly that the operators were never bored. The operators might be in touch with one ship at a time, but by 1904 they were in communication with at least 6 ships at a time.
There were six operators. At first they worked in the wireless telegraphy station in the village but later they had to make the lonely trudge out of the village and up the hill to Brow Head to the former Lloyds station. There were three watches midnight to 8 am., 8am. to 4pm., and 4pm. to midnight with two operators on each watch. In 1904 a ship broke a shaft eighty miles out from Crookhaven. She was fitted with Marconi equipment and soon hundreds of messages were streaming back and forth to her as the passengers contacted their families and friends. Assistance was sent immediately and she was back on course without mishap. Marconi's invention had taken much of the fear out of the sea.
After Marconi had conquered the transatlantic message and more shipping lines equipped their fleets with Marconi equipment, it was not necessary to be close to the shipping. It was no longer necessary to man a station in a remote area like West Cork and the station closed.
The role of Mizen Head and Crookhaven as a communications and provisioning hub was over and it reverted to a quiet fishing port. However, it has never lost its cosmopolitan appeal.
Special Thanks go to Sue Hill, Stephen O'Sullivan and Staff of the Mizen Head Visitors Centre
for their valued support in providing facilities for this event.