In 2019 seven young film-makers were awarded a Film Bursary by Great Lighthouses of Ireland to turn their lenses and focus on some of the Northern Ireland’s landmark lighthouses.
Legends of the Lighthouse, launched on Thursday 5 December at the Titanic Belfast, compiles the resulting short video stories. These discrete videos are the film-makers individual, creative response to the heritage, stories, people and settings of one of our truly unique great lighthouses; Blackhead, Co Antrim; Rathlin West Light, Co. Antrim, St. John’s Point, Co Down and The Great Light in the Titanic Quarter, Belfast.
Legends of the Lighthouse is one of nine projects funded by a unique partnership between the Heritage Lottery Fund, Tourism NI and the Department for Communities, Historic Environment Division, to mark the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018. The aim of the fund was to uncover and promote the hidden heritage of Northern Ireland as a lever to attract additional investment, boost tourism and aid regeneration.
The project evolved as an idea during consultation with Irish Lights staff, local lighthouse communities, BigO media and experts in the field. Following an international open competition, five projects were selected. Film-makers were supported by people locally and in Irish Lights as they got to know the history and have their own experience of their chosen lighthouse and its community. Film-makers also received support and mentoring from BigO.
Legends of the Lighthouse marries the need to explore and conserve the heritage of lighthouses with the on-going demand for digital content. These short videos enable the history, stories and imagery to be shared online by industry stakeholders and by individuals: visitors and enthusiasts alike. The videos along with a digital storytelling toolkit and downloadable content will be available on www.greatlighthouses.com
The Legends of the Lighthouse videos are as follows:
Rathlin by Nathalie Baker (UK) | Rathlin, Co. Antrim
In this amusing and engaging video, our London-based, self-taught videographer finds joy in the small moments of island life – and in her favourite place near one of Rathlin’s three lighthouses.
Light in the West by Lawrence Eagling (NI) and Tasha Philips (NI)| Rathlin West Light, Co. Antrim
Liam McFaul, Rathlin native and RSPB Warden, shares the story of the remarkable Rathlin West Light, the ‘upside down’ lighthouse, in this video by the Belfast-based duo, Swimming Head Productions.
Beneath the beam By Rupert Shanks (UK) & Yvonne Gordon (Irl) | St John’s Point Lighthouse, Co. Down
The distinctive yellow and black lighthouse at St. John’s Point captivated these two experienced and lauded filmmakers. Here they talk to others also under the lighthouse’s spell.
Danny’s letter by Hugh Sweeney | Blackhead Lighthouse, Co. Antrim
This video from our Galway based filmmaker is both a compelling family drama and a rich evocation of lighthouse life.
The Great Light by Emma Zukovic (Irl) | The Great Light, Titanic, Belfast
Our youngest, west of Ireland-based film-maker shares the history and celebrates the heritage of the majestic Great Light, from its origins in France to its place, an icon in the Titanic Quarter, today.
Legends of the Lighthouse is a Great Lighthouses of Ireland maritime heritage and storytelling project, led by The Irish Landmark Trust in partnership with Irish Lights; Newry, Mourne and Down District; Mid and East Antrim; RSPB NI and the Titanic Foundation.
Speaking about the project and its outcome, Yvonne Shields, Chief Executive of Irish Lights said:
‘This year, Irish Lights embarked on a programme of work to share our rich archive, dating back to the early 1800’s with researchers and the general public. This project brings the archive to life with videos which animate our history and hopefully will raise curiosity and interest. They involve and showcase our lighthouse communities and partners by presenting the stories of our Great Lighthouses in a way that can reach and engage a wide audience. Potential visitors will see Northern Ireland afresh and surely be unable to resist its wonderful coastal locations’.
Paul Mullan, Director, National Lottery Heritage Fund added:
‘When we conceived the fund to mark European Year of Cultural Heritage with our partners Tourism NI and the Department for Communities, we hoped for projects that would be both imaginative and purposeful, supporting our aims to boost tourism, attract investment and aid regeneration. Legends of the Lighthouse contributes to those ambitions. Inspired by the rich cultural heritage of the lighthouses, this suite of videos, alongside other imagery and stories gathered during this project attractively showcases Northern Ireland today. We are delighted to have funded this initiative’.
John McGrillen, CEO, Tourism NI said:
“We have recently launched our new experience brand - Northern Ireland Embrace a Giant Spirit. We know our visitors come to Northern Ireland to experience the warmth of our welcome, to engage with the authenticity of the destination and its people and get a deeper connection with Northern Ireland. The Great Lighthouses of Ireland epitomise the characteristics at the heart of our new brand. The heritage and the elemental beauty of our landscapes are captured so well in the Legends of the Lighthouse videos. We look forward to utilising them as part of our campaign to attract people to Northern Ireland and to discover for themselves our giant spirit.”
Project sponsor Mary O Brien, CEO, Irish Landmark Trust concluded:
“This project was designed to equip partners with the content and tools to enhance marketing and communications and also to support training and development for local guides and storytellers. We look forward to building on this in the future, via events and workshops that harness the skills and knowledge of all the people and communities of the Great Lighthouses of Ireland’.
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