By staff reporter
A group of amateur ham radio operators will wind back the clock at Loop Head Lighthouse this weekend when they attempt to communicate via radio and Morse code with hundreds of radio clubs throughout the world.
The Limerick Radio Club, which features members from Clare, Kerry, Limerick and Tipperary, will broadcast non-stop for 48 hours from the West Clare lighthouse as part of the 17th International Lighthouse & Lightship Weekend (ILLW).
During the broadcast from midnight on Friday to midnight on Sunday, visitors to the popular tourism landmark will be able to listen into communications with some of the other participating ham radio operators broadcasting from 400 other lighthouses and lightships in 65 countries.
Last year, the Limerick Radio Club successfully made contact with lighthouses and lightships as far away as Brazil, Australia, Tonga, French Guiana, Asiatic Russia, Ecuador, The Azores and The US Virgin Islands. The majority of all radio contacts were made with operators in the United States (200), Germany (155) and Italy (76). 61% of overall communication was conducted via radio with the remaining 39% being conducted via Morse code.
The group also attempted to communicate with its twinned club in South Jersey using Earth-Moon-Earth communication, also known as “moon bounce”. First developed by the US Military after World War Two, the radio communications technique involves radio waves travelling from one transmitter to another using the Moon as a reflector.
Loop Head Lighthouse, located at the mouth of the Shannon Estuary, is steeped in history and rich in maritime heritage with its origins dating back to the 1670s. The existing tower style lighthouse was constructed in 1854 and was operated and maintained by a keeper who lived within the lighthouse compound. In January 1991, the lighthouse was converted to automatic operation, and today is in the care of an attendant and is also monitored by the CIL.