It stands taller than the Harland and Wolff Cranes, Dublin’s spire and even the pyramids of Egypt and has been ensuring residents in the north west are kept entertained through television and radio for the past 50 years.
Now Strabane transmitting station’s birthday has been officially marked by the local council with a commemorative plaque at the site of the towering landmark.
It was first erected on the instruction of the Independent Television Authority in 1964 to serve Tyrone, Fermanagh and Londonderry - areas not covered by the construction of the Black Mountain station near Belfast.
It is hoped the transmitter, known locally as ‘the TV mast’, in Ligford may draw tourists and people with an interest in technology and communications to the area.
Tourism Officer with Strabane District Council Phillip McShane said interest in the 1,000 feet-high man-made structure had grown since a factsheet on its history was produced recently, and much positive feedback has been received.
“Back in the 1960s people wanted to see it,” he said. “It was a thing of interest and now we want to remind people that the structure is still here, and still towers well above many other landmarks in the UK, Ireland and beyond.”
Likening the local interest factor when the transmitter was first built to the more recent opening of the Peace Bridge in Londonderry, Philip said it is something of which local residents should be proud.
“I am not sure people really appreciated in the past that it was and is the tallest building in Ireland,” he said. “It is something to celebrate. We will certainly be including it as part of a our wider tourism offering here.”
Now around 34,000 viewers regularly watch digital television and listen to radio via the transmitter, which is owned by Arqiva.
Speaking at the unveiling event last Friday, Vice Chair of Strabane District Council, Councillor Michelle McMackin said the transmitter provides a vital service in the local area.
“Strabane District Council is fully appreciative of the crucial service provided by Arqiva – owner and operator of the Strabane Transmitter. As a result of their ongoing commitment and investment, a population of some 34,000 persons can today enjoy the benefits of digital TV and radio from the comfort of their homes or while on the move. “We look forward to enjoying continued levels of high quality service provision, and working in partnership with Arqiva with the aim of building a progressive and forward looking district of which everyone can be proud.”