New visitor experience on Valentia Island to celebrate transatlantic cable

20 Jul 2022

Valentia Island. Image: © MNStudio/

A new interactive visitor experience will recount Valentia Island’s role in the first undersea transatlantic telegraph cable.

Valentia Ireland in Co Kerry will be home to a new transatlantic cable visitor experience that is due to open tomorrow (21 July). Called The Eighth Wonder, it will open ahead of the sixth Valentia Lecture.

Valentia was the location for one end of the first undersea transatlantic telegraph cable that connected Ireland with North America.

The 3,000km cable was revolutionary back in 1858 when it was installed, reducing communication time between the two locations from weeks to just minutes. The first message transmitted was a note of congratulations from Queen Victoria to the US president James Buchanan.

While this historic development failed after three weeks, another cable was successfully laid in 1866 connecting Valentia with the town of Heart’s Content in Newfoundland, Canada.

Now, tourists and locals can visit the Valentia Island cable station and the new interactive visitor experience. The Eight Wonder recounts the historical developments, considered the 19th century equivalent of putting a person on the moon.

It received support from Fáilte Ireland under the New Horizons on the Wild Atlantic Way Grants Scheme 2018.

Following the opening of the visitor experience, the sixth Valentia Lecture will take place on Friday (22 July). The annual event, centred around the theme of globalisation, will be held at the Valentia cable station. It will also be recorded and made available online later in the month.

It will feature Claire Cronin, the US Ambassador to Ireland, as well as author and broadcaster Eddie Hobbs, speaking on the theme of globalisation. There will also be a panel discussion on the topic of regional development in a remote working world.

Nancy Smyth, Canadian Ambassador to Ireland, will be joined by June O’Connell of Skellig Distillery, Garry Connolly of Host in Ireland and local councillor Norma Moriarty.

In the evening, there will be an online ‘link-up’ with Heart’s Content. It will feature a greeting from each country’s ambassadors and a fireside chat in which young contributors from both sides the Atlantic will share their thoughts on the future of the global citizen, along with a musical exchange.

The lecture will be followed by a gala dinner with addresses from Minister for Education Norma Foley, TD, and Shay Walsh, managing director of BT Ireland, which is a sponsor of the Valentia Transatlantic Cable Foundation.

Last year’s Valentia Lecture saw CNN journalist and Kerry native Donie O’Sullivan, as well as MEP Máiread McGuinness, address attendees. Silicon Republic’s CEO, Ann O’Dea addressed the event in 2020.

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Blathnaid O’Dea is Careers reporter at Silicon Republic