Ah lighthouses! What is it that makes them such potent forces in our imaginations? Is it their simple but vital function? Their stoic isolation? Or maybe their literal stand against the elements? Perhaps all these things and more. Certainly few things stir the poetic soul in us quite the way a lone lighthouse set against an endless sea does.
Naturally, the island of Ireland has its fair share of lighthouse and many of these vital structures are built in some of the most beautiful coastal spots in the country, from scenic headlands to isolated islands. Let’s journey around the Irish coast and take a look at a few of our favourite picturesque lighthouses and bask in their simple beauty.
Here’s Five fantastic lighthouses around Ireland!
1. Baily Lighthouse, Howth, Co. Dublin
The origins of the Baily Lighthouse in Howth dates back to 1667 when a cottage type lighthouse with coal burning beacon on top was built. This was replaced in 1790 with a set of six Argand oil lamps, each had a reflector which directed the light through six bulls eye panes set in a lantern on top of the tower. To improve visibility in 1810 they decided to move the lighthouse south to the headland of Little Baily.
In the 70’s it began to be modernised. The old optic was removed and replaced and now resides in the National Maritime Museum in Dun Laoghaire. In 1996 the lighthouse was converted to automatic operation and the last Keepers left on March 24th 1997. This picturesque lighthouse can be spotted when walking the beautiful Howth Cliff Walk.
2. Hook Lighthouse, Co. Wexford
The Hook Lighthouse is located at the tip of the Hook Peninsula in County Wexford and it’s one of the oldest working lighthouses in the world! The tradition of having a light on this spot dates back to the 5th century when monks from a local monastery would light a beacon to warn passing seafarers of dangerous rocks.
The current tower has been use for 800 years, it was built by William Marshall the Earl of Pembroke and Lord of Leinster. Over the years it became modernised and today it is open to the public with a visitor centre and guided tours.
3. Skellig Lighthouse, Co. Kerry
Long after the traditional monks had left and before the Jedis flew in, two lighthouses were established on the west side of Skellig Michale in 1826. The upper of the two didn’t last very long and was discontinued in 1870, the structure now lies empty and abandoned. The other one is still in use today as an unmanned station after it was modernised and became fully automated in the 1960s.
4. Fastnet Lighthouse, Co. Cork
This lighthouse situated on Fastnet Rock, the southernmost point of Irish soil, looks like something out of a fantasy film. It’s white elegant tower is in stark contrast with the harsh rocky outcrop it’s attached to. It must have taken a colossal feat of engineering to place it there.
Boat trips go from Baltimore and Cape Clear bring you up close so you can see this fantastical marvel with your own eyes. The waters surrounding it are also a great spot to see whales and dolphins.
5. Wicklow Head Lighthouse, Co. Wicklow
The Wicklow Head Lighthouse has been watching over the Wicklow coastline since 1782. Two lighthouses were built on the headland. This was a way to help seafarers differentiate it with the single lights of Howth Head and Hook Head. The lighthouse is still operational today and it also doubles as unique self catering accommodation. Imagine waking up to the stunning views of the Irish Sea and the Wicklow coastline. The 109 steps to the kitchen sound less appealing though.