We’d be totally lost without the Strabane Transmitting Station

Workmen pictured during the construction of Strabane TV Mast. (Image courtesy of Marc O'Neill, Creative Signwork, Clady)
Workmen pictured during the construction of Strabane TV Mast. (Image courtesy of Marc O'Neill, Creative Signwork, Clady)

Strabane District Council has unveiled a commemorative panel to mark the 50th anniversary of the Strabane Transmitting Station - known locally simply as “the TV Mast”.

The Vice Chair of Strabane District Council, Councillor Michelle McMackin, performed the honours at the site of the towering rural landmark at Ligford on Friday.

Strabane TV Mast. (Courtesy of Marc O'Neill, Creative Signwork, Clady)

Strabane TV Mast. (Courtesy of Marc O'Neill, Creative Signwork, Clady)

Standing just over 1,000 feet (305.5metres ) in height, the tower has the distinction of being the tallest man-made structure in Ireland, beating notable features such as the Spire in Dublin and Samson- the Harland & Wolff crane in Belfast- into second and third place respectively.

Today the transmitter, which is currently owned and operated by Arqiva, broadcasts digital TV and radio to a population of around 34,000.

It was originally commissioned by the Independent Television Authority to broadcast TV in black and white to the West of Ulster, and specifically to the geographic areas of Tyrone, Fermanagh and Derry not covered by the construction of the Black Mountain station near Belfast.

At the time the provision of the Strabane Transmitter represented an important technological leap forward for the local population of West Ulster.

Television broadcasts would transform how the people accessed information on local, national and world events, and enriched lives through entertainment and educational programming.

In its first year of operation, local viewers were able to follow images of the presidential visit of John F Kennedy to Ireland, and his tragic assassination later that year, as well as enjoy the very first broadcast of Dr Who.

Speaking at the unveiling event, the Vice Chair of Strabane District Council, Councillor Michelle McMackin underlined the value of the Strabane Transmitter to the local community.

She said: “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.”

The TV mast was launched in 1964.