Talk to reflect on the first trans Atlantic cable

Christopher Mitchelmore, Minister of Tourism and Heritage in Newfoundland Labrador (left) with Micheal Lyne, Chairman, Valentia Island Development Company in the historic Valentia Cable Station

THE fascinating story of the Valentia Trans-Atlantic Cable project will be told, in great detail, at Killarney House this Thursday night as part of the popular Killarney Autumn Talks Series

In 1999, Valentia Islander Michael Lyne, who will deliver the lecture, was one of three people who re-opened the Valentia Slate Quarry, which had been closed since 1911.

He is now chairman of Valentia Island Development Company and a director of Valentia Island Transatlantic Cable Foundation under the chairmanship of Leonard Hobbs.

Pictured at the  Government Offices in Killarney were Moira Murrell, Chief Executive, Kerry County Council, Christopher Mitchelmore, Minister of Tourism and Heritage, Government of Newfoundland Labrador,  Canada, Minister of State, Brendan Griffin, and John Griffin, Tourism Officer, Kerry County Council

Valentia Island was at the heart of global communications long before the internet or mobile phones.

160 years ago, the very first telegram was sent from Valentia Island in Kerry to Heart’s Content in Newfoundland by Queen Victoria to President James Buchanan of the US.

For the best part of 100 years, after that fateful first cable was sent, Valentia Island was to become a global hub for communications and engineering until the arrival of satellite communications led to the station’s closure by Western Union in 1966.

The talk, which is free to all, will commence at 8.00pm.

Meanwhile, Newfoundland’s Tourism and Heritage Minister, Christopher Mitchelmore, was in Kerry this week for talks with Minister of State, Brendan Griffin and Kerry County Council CEO, Moira Murrell, in relation to the Valentia Trans-Atlantic Cable Project and possible UNESCO World Heritage designation.

He later visited Valentia Island to meet members of the Valentia Island Development Company and to view the cable sites at first hand.

A plaque in Valentia commemorating the first trans Atlantic cable communication

Mr Mitchelmore said that Newfoundland and Ireland had a shared heritage with the trans-Atlantic telegraph cable which extended along the seabed from Hearts Content, Newfoundland to Valentia for over a century.

The laying of the undersea cable after several attempts in the mid 1860s was a global technological milestone and had reduced communications times between Europe and North America from weeks to mere minutes. It heralded the beginning of globalisation.

Now 50 years after the closure of both cable stations, it is proposed to mount a joint bid to UNESCO to have them listed as World Heritage sites.

Last December Canada placed the Hearts Content Cable Station on its UNESCO tentative list – the first step in the designation process – and asked the Irish Government to do likewise for Valentia.  Minister Griffin said he fully supported the Valentia case.

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