A CAMPAIGN has been launched to preserve the Irish site where the first ever transatlantic message was transmitted.
The online fundraising initiative is designed to raise money to restore and preserve the Valentia Cable Station on Valentia Island in Co. Kerry – which marks the birthplace of global transatlantic telecommunications.
In 1858 Europe and North America were connected for the first time via a 3,000km undersea transatlantic telegraph cable, upon which the first ever message was sent from the cable office on Valentia Island to Trinity Bay in Newfoundland.
The message was a note of congratulations from Queen Victoria to President Buchanan of the United States.
It was 98 words long and it took 16 hours to transmit, while the President’s response, which was 143 words, was sent in just 10 hours.
This marked the first step in global telecommunications – and the eventual globalisation of the world – and by 1866 a permanent connection was established between Valentia and Hearts Content in Newfoundland.
The cable reduced communication times from weeks to minutes – a revolutionary achievement now considered the 19th century equivalent of putting a man on the moon.
In a bid to preserve this historic milestone further, the Irish government has listed the Valentia Transatlantic Cable Project on its Tentative List for UNESCO inscription.
And now the Valentia Island Transatlantic Cable Foundation have launched an ambitious fundraising initiative to restore the cable station to its former glory while adding exhibition space and a digital hub within the historic building.
“Encouraged by the decision of the Irish government to include the Valentia Transatlantic Cable project as only one of three projects on the Ireland Tentative list for UNESCO inscription, we are now focusing on the restoration of the related historic sites, with our priority being the refurbishment of the Cable Station at Knightstown and its plans to be both an inspiring exhibit and museum for this epic story, and also a place to inspire a new generation of technologists and entrepreneurs in a bespoke digital hub,” Leonard Hobbs, Chair of the Foundation, confirmed.
“This incredible place earned its place in history as the birthplace of global telecommunications,” he added.
“It has a fascinating story that we want to share with the world and uniquely is set to increasingly be part of the community’s future with its new digital hub.
“We’re calling on the people of Kerry, the province, the country and the world to help us celebrate and preserve this special site that played a global role and shaped the earliest days of communication technology.”
The auction website is now open for bids here with lots ranging from exclusive hotel accommodation experiences to private whiskey tasting and much sought-after tickets to sporting events.
Bids will be taken until July 28, during the annual Valentia Lecture event at the Cable Station, which for 2023 will discuss ‘a vision for Ireland and its place in a digital world’.