Heritage Weekend at Clifden
A Marconi Heritage Weekend was held on the 12th to 14th October 2012 as part of the Clifden bicentenary celebrations in Connemara. Three ROA members were present, Colman Shaughnessy, Tom Frawley and myself. The organisers were delighted by the support this event received from our Association and from information received from David Barlow and Keith Matthew.
Four presentations were given during the first two days, the first by Tom Frawley was an excellent talk on how a scaled down spark-gap transmitter was constructed for the BBC programme “Coast.” Michael Gibbons, a noted local arcgaeologist and historian, followed by giving a good account of the heritage value of the Marconi site.
The second day featured Shane Joyce a member of the local Chamber of Commerce. He spoke about his recent research into the station’s operations from 1907 to 1922. Many of the Clifden operators trained at Seaforth Radio School, so the evolution of RO training was the theme of my presentation. I am pleased to report that all four presentations had a good audience in attendance and were very well received. The speakers also answered the many questions posed by the audience.
The highlight of the weekend of course had to be the visit to the Derrigimlagh site. Although little remains of the actual station the outline of the huge 300 ft long condenser house is still visible as is the remains of the receiving hut and the power house. The latter was fuelled by peat and Marconi employed 150 men cutting the peat which was transported to the power house by a narrow gauge railway. With an array of 200 ft high masts holding antenna wires nearly half a mile long, in its heyday this station was an impressive sight. I’m also delighted to report that the weather stayed dry for our visit and after walking the length and breadth of the 300 acre site and visiting the memorial to Alcock and Browne, refreshments in the local hostelry were most welcome.
W.G.Williamson, Archivist ROA.