The Telegraph Field - Valentia Island, Ireland

Welcome to
"The Telegraph Field"

The Telegraph Field, Valentia Island: Foilhommerum is the site of the first permanent communications link between Europe and America. Transatlantic telegraph cables operated from Valentia Island from 1866.

The area was recognized in 2000 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers as an "Electrical Engineering Milestone", and this is commemorated by plaques at the appropriate locations.

Also known as "The Longitude Field". Prior to the transatlantic telegraph, American longitude measurements had a 2800 foot uncertainty with respect to European longitudes. A temporary longitude observatory was built adjacent to the Foilhommerum Cable Station to facilitate synchronized longitude observations with Heart's Content , Newfoundland.

 


Map of Valentia Island showing location of the field

The Telegraph Field today

The Telegraph or Longitude Field is still available to view on Valentia Island in Foilhomurrum Bay.
The Telegraph Field - Valentia Bay
Aerial photo of the field today. Click image for larger version
The Telegraph Field - Valentia Bay
The original cable station (Anglo America Cable House) can still be seen in the field.
The Telegraph Field - Valentia Bay
Foilhomurrum Bay as seen from the Telegraph Field with the Skelligs in the distance.

Transatlantic Telegraph Cable Memorial
Transatlantic Telegraph Cable Memorial by Sculptor Alan Ryan Hall
On Valentia Island there is a memorial to the Transatlantic Cable by sculptor
Alan Ryan Hall


Alan Ryan Hall
lives on Valentia Island and a portfolio of his work can be seen at www.alanryanhall.com
or he can be contacted at info@alanryanhall.com

Images taken from the following books:

The Atlantic Telegraph by W.H. Russell
The Cable by Gillian Cookson
A Thread Across the Ocean by John Steele Gordon
Valentia: Portrait of an Island by Daphne D.C.Pochin Mould
click here to see these and more books about Valentia Island Telegraph Field
Transatlantic Telegraph Cable Commemorative Coin
Transatlantic Telegraph Cable Coin
Click on coin to see larger image
The Ocean Telegraph March
by Francis Henry Brown

The Ocean Telegraph March

Click here to listen to the MP3 music of the Ocean Telegraph March
History of the Atlantic Telegraph
by Henry M. Field

Extracts with references to Valentia Island and The Longitude Field

Click here to download the History of the Atlantic Telegraph
Valentia Island Heritage Center
Open 1 April until 30 September
10:30 - 5:00 daily
(Other times by arrangement)
Valentia Heritage Centre School Road
Knightstown, Valentia Island
The Skellig Experience
In THE SKELLIG EXPERIENCE CENTRE you can experience many aspects of those offshore Skellig island
July & August Open 10.00a.m.-7.00 p.m. 7 days a week
March, April, October & November Open 10.00a.m. - 5.00 p.m. 5 days a week

Some sites about Valentia Island

Click here to see sites about Valentia Island

Lindberg - "Spirit of St Louis"

Charles Lindberg flew over Valentia Island on the first solo non-stop transatlantic flight in 1927, New York to Paris.

Lindbergh took off in the Spirit from Roosevelt Airfield, Garden City (Long Island), New York and landed 33 hours, 30 minutes later at Le Bourget Aerodrome in Paris, France.

The Telegraph Field on Valenia Island - Documentary


Documentary on Valentia Island and the impact The Transatlantic Telegraph made on the island.

Photo Gallery of the Telegraph Field

click on images to view larger version
Foilhomurrum Bay and ‘Cromwell's Fort', Valentia.
Foilhomurrum Bay and ‘Cromwell's Fort', Valentia.
Aerial photo Daphne Pocin Mould.
Foilhomurrum Bay and ‘Cromwell's Fort', Valentia.
The Telegraph Field as it stands today.
Foilhomurrum Bay and ‘Cromwell's Fort', Valentia.
The Telegraph Field today showing shell of first station
Site and ruins of first cable station at Foilhomurrum Bay. Photo Daphne Pochin Mould.
Site and ruins of first cable station at Foilhomurrum Bay.
Photo Daphne Pochin Mould.
Knightstown, Valentia. Aerial Photo Daphne Pochin Mould.
Knightstown, Valentia. Aerial Photo Daphne Pochin Mould.
Click to view more
The splice is made linking the Valentia end and the ocean length of cable.
The Caroline laying the shore end cable, Port Magee, 22 July 1865
The Caroline laying the shore end cable, Port Magee, 22 July 1865
Click to view more
Samples of cables and signals, 1858 and 1866. (Cable & Wireless Archives, Porthcurno)
Click to view more
Making steel wires for the 1865 cable. (Cable & Wireless Archives, Porthcurno)
Click to view more
An unforeseen hazard: a whale crosses the Agamemnon's cable, 1858.
Click to view more
The crew of the Agamemnon, 1858. (Institution of Electrical Engineers)
Click to view more
Telegraph station in a tent at Valentia, drawn by Robert Dudley. (Institution of Electrical Engineers)
Click to view more
Building the land line from Dublin to Valentia. (Cable & Wireless Archives, Porthcurno)
Click to view more
Frontispiece by Robert Dudley from W.H. Russell's The Atlantic Telegraph (Day & Son Ltd: London 1865).
Click to view more
Chart showing the track of the steam-ship Great Eastern on her voyage from Valencia to Newfoundland .
Click to view more
The cliffs at Foilhummerum Bay . The point of the landing of the shore end of the cable, July 22.
Click to view more
Foilhummerum Bay , Valentia, looking seawards from the point at which the cable reaches the shore.
Click to view more
Trinity Bay , Newfoundland . An exterior view of the telegraph house in 1857-1858.
Click to view more
Valentia in 1857-1858 at the time of the laying of the former cable.
Click to view more
Foilhummerum Bay , Valencia from “Cromwell Fort?The Caroline and boats laying the earth wire July 21 st
Click to view more
Robert Dudley's painting of laying the shore end at Foilhummerum Bay .
The laying of the Atlantic Telegraph Cable: landing the shore end of the cable from the Caroline at Foilhomurrum, Valentia, 1865. Illustrated London News, 5 August 1865.
The laying of the Atlantic Telegraph Cable: landing the shore end of the cable from the Caroline at Foilhomurrum, Valentia, 1865. Illustrated London News, 5 August 1865. .
The Scellig of St. Michael
The Scellig of St. Michael, the Little Skellig and Carraig Lomain with the Kerry coast in the distance. Aerial photo Daphne Pochin Mould.
The Scellig of St. Michael
The Telegraph Field as it stands today
click on images to view larger version

Powerhouse Museum's objects from the Transatlantic Cable


Interesting documentary on the Powerhouse Museums objects from The first Atlantic submarine telegraph cable

>

Vikram Pandit on Citi funding the Transatlantic Cable


Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit talks about the accomplishments of Citi's first 200 years including their financing of the Transatlantic Cable

Land Registry Map - Anglo American Cable House


The Scellig of St. Michael
Click on Map to view a larger version

On the left is the Land Registry Map of the Atlantic Cable Station, marked as the Anglo American Cable House.

Click on the map to see a larger version which shows:

  • The Cable House
  • Cromwell Fort
  • Foilhummerum Bay

 

The Anfield Flag Pole in LiverpoolThe Anfield Flag Pole from SS Great Eastern Telegraph Cable ship

The topmast of the SS Great Eastern, one of the first iron ships, was rescued from the ship breaking yard at Rock Ferry, and was hauled up Everton Valley by a team of horses, to be erected alongside the new Kop. It still stands there, serving as a flag pole in the famous Anfield Stadium, home of Liverpool Football Club.

The SS Great Eastern

On her ill-fated maiden voyage, the SS Great Eastern, was damaged by an explosion. After repairs, she plied for several years as a passenger liner between Britain and America before being converted to a cable-laying ship and laying the first lasting transatlantic telegraph cable in 1866. She finished her life as a float music hall in Liverpool, before eventually being broken up in 1889.

The History of the Atlantic Telegraph by Henry M. Field

An excerpt: "... and in the laying of the foundation of the new Cathedral of St Patrick, the largest temple of religion on the continnet, Archbishop Hughes placed under the corner-stone an inscription, wherein, along with the enduring record of the Christian faith and the names of martyrs and confessors, he did not disdain to include a brief memorial of this last achievement of science, and the name of him who had conferred so great a benefit on mankind."

An excerpt about The Longitude Field: "...They (the U.S Coast Survey), built a temporary longitude observatory immediately adjacent to the Foilhommerum Cable Station to facilitate longitude observations with Heart's Content, Newfoundland."

Click here to download the History of the Atlantic Telegraph

The Apotheosis of Washington - Marine

The Apotheosis of Washington


The Apotheosis of Washington in the eye of the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol was painted in the true fresco technique by Constantino Brumidi in 1865. Six groups of figures line the perimeter of the canopy, including Neptune holding his trident and Venus holding the transatlantic cable, which was being laid at the time the fresco was painted.

Click here for more information

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Apotheosis_of_Washington

Telegraph PostcardCyrus Field's Atlantic Cable
1854-1866 Mighty Link beneath the Sea

One day in 1854, Canadian engineer Frederick Gisborne sat in Cyrus Field's parlor in New York City and talked about a telegraph line that would link North America with Europe . The idea appealed to the wealthy paper whole­saler from Massachusetts , and he lis­tened to Gisborne with rising interest. At 34, already the owner of a success­ful business that practically ran itself, Field was restless and looking for a challenge.

His mind raced ahead. Why not lay a cable on the bottom of the ocean it­self, Field wondered. Samuel F,B. Morse, inventor of the telegraph, had already expressed some interest in a transatlantic cable. Field approached Morse and Matthew Maury, head of The U.S. Naval Observatory, and talked them into helping him get the project started. Their plan was to lay the cable between Valentia , Ireland , and Trinity Bay , Newfoundland . The cable itself was manufactured in Eng­land , and it consisted of a core of seven interwoven copper wires sheathed in a rubber like substance called gutta-percha. The outer shell was made of eight woven strands of iron. Over 2,000 miles (3,200 km.) of cable were coiled onto two ships, the American Niagara and the British Agamemnon , which left Ireland together, and without fanfare, on August 8, 1857. The Niagara was to lay out the first half of the cable, and the Agamemnon would take over in mid-ocean.

Shortly after the operation began, the cable snapped, and half a million dollars' worth of material slithered to the bottom of the ocean. Field tried again in July, 1858, and this time man­aged to lay the cable between its two terminals in Newfoundland and Ire­land . As the first messages commenced between Europe and North America, the people of New York City went wild. There was a parade, a torchlight procession, and fireworks. Cyrus Field was the man of the hour. But after three weeks and several hundred cable­grams, the cable stopped dead, and in the public mind Field became a charla­tan and a swindler.

Eventually, after 12 long years of still more failures, an improved cable weighing 5,000 tons (4.400 metric tons) was successfully laid on the ocean floor from the huge, 693-foot (205-m.) iron ship, the Great Eastern . When the 3,000-mile (4,800-km.) cable was brought ashore at Heart's Content, Newfoundland, the workmen danced with the dangling end before anchoring it, this time for good, on July 27, 1866.

Illustration: Interior of one of the cable tanks on board the Great Eastern
©1979, Panarizon Publishing Corp, USA
Illust: Smithsonian Institute
Printed in Italy
03-012-03-24
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