Telegraph station plaque

In 1857 the first transatlantic telegraph cable was landed in Ballycarbery strand on Valentia island by the Anglo-American Cable Company. The first cable was short lived lasting just a few months, it did however establish the viability of transatlantic telegraphing, and subsequent cables were laid and by 1866 Trans-Atlantic telegraphing took hold. In the years that followed the first of the “cable stations” as they became locally known as was located in Valentia Island and by 1900 approximately 40 telegraphers worked there along with various support staff and family members. Such were the financial rewards to be gleaned from the sending and receiving of transatlantic telegraphs that a “mini village/community was built locally to house and support the business. To a large extent, the staff and the families formed a little colony onto themselves in this remote part of Kerry but as time went on and nature took its course they integrated more into the local community.

Some of the original cable station houses can be still seen on the island today. Drive down the main street of Knightstown past the ferry landing and onto the shore road. You will see a group of white-painted cable station buildings on the right a short distance from the ferry. An IEEE marker can be seen on one of the gateposts. The cable station in Valentia was operational from 1866-1966.