The Great Light is the world’s first and largest hyper-radial Fresnel lighthouse lens and gave Mew Island Lighthouse on the Copeland Islands its traditional revolving light. It guided mariners to and from Belfast Lough until 2014, when the optic was removed as the lighthouse was modernised and converted to solar power.
Now, the optic has been restored, housed in an interpretive structure and given a new role - bringing to life the story of lighthouses, their technological developments, their light-keepers and their role in the maritime and industrial history of Belfast and beyond.
The Great Light project was led by the Titanic Foundation, the charity committed to preserving Belfast’s maritime and industrial heritage, in partnership with the Commissioners of Irish Lights. It was made possible with a £332,000 grant from HLF.
[quote= Anna Carragher, Chair of HLF Northern Ireland]National Lottery funding has been crucial in transforming this area.[/quote]
A beacon connecting maritime and industrial heritage
Anna Carragher, Chair of HLF Northern Ireland, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, the Mew Optic has been conserved and given new meaning as the beacon which connects the wealth of maritime and industrial heritage attractions on offer in Titanic Quarter. National Lottery funding has been crucial in transforming this area - HMS Caroline, the Nomadic and Titanic Hotel Belfast amongst those to have benefited –which now attracts both local and international visitors to learn about the former shipyard, its workers and the wider industrial development of the city.”
The opening event was also selected to launch The European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 in Northern Ireland, where HLF will work with the Department for Communities Historic Environment Division, Tourism Northern Ireland, the Arts Council and the British Council to help leverage the potential of our cultural heritage in new and interesting ways.