Think you’re the bright spark when it comes to Irish Lighthouses?
Take our Ultimate Lighthouse Quiz to find out – it’s pretty tricky!
1. Jedi’s need guidance too! How many lighthouses are on Skellig Michael?
Long after the traditional monks had left and before the Jedi flew in, two lighthouses were established on the west side of Skellig Michael 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 1960's.
2. What is Ireland’s oldest lighthouse?
Hook Lighthouse is located at the tip of the Hook Peninsula, Co. Wexford and is the oldest lighthouse in Ireland and 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 over 800 years.
3. Kish Lighthouse is located 11km off the coast of Dublin. How did the lighthouse get there?
Kish Bank is a shallow sandy area 11km off the east coast of Dublin notorious for shipwrecks. For around 150 years the bank was served by a lightship to aid navigation. In 1960 it was decided to build a new permanent lighthouse on Kish bank. The lighthouse was designed by Messrs Christiani & Nielsen Ltd and it was based on models previously used in Sweden. On 29th June 1965, it was towed out of Dun Laoghaire harbour 11km to the Kish bank. A unique floating lighthouse, a truly amazing feat of engineering for a particularly difficult set of conditions.
4. In what year was one of the world's first nuclear powered lighthouses installed on Rathlin O’Birne?
Rathlin O’Birne is a small uninhabited island off the coast of Donegal. The waters around the island are wild and treacherous and there has been some form of light on the island guiding seafarers since 1856. In 1974 it was the location of an international experiment and became one of the world’s first nuclear powered lighthouses and the world's most powerful. Today it is powered by solar power like most of the other lighthouses in the country.
5. What is the name of the lighthouse pictured below?
Fastnet lighthouse was a grand feat of engineering built to withstand the incredible forces of the Atlantic. It was designed by William Douglass and took five years to build and was completed in 1904. It is the tallest and widest rock lighthouse tower in Ireland and Great Britain.
6. Spitbank is one of the few remaining screw pile lighthouses left in Ireland. What was the name of their inventor?
Alexander Mitchell’s story is inspirational - despite his complete blindness he used his incredible engineering talent to help seafarers see a light in the dark. His most famous invention is the screw-pile lighthouse. His design enabled lighthouses to be built in the difficult soil conditions of shifting sands in deep waters. Only three of Mitchell’s iconic lighthouses in Ireland remain standing. One at Spitbank Cobh, one in Dundalk Bay and a third in Moville, Inishowen Co. Donegal.
7. The Mew Island Optic is one of the largest and last surviving lighthouse optics of its kind. Which island was it originally installed on?
The Mew Island Optic dates back to 1887 and is thought to be one of the largest ever constructed. Weighing 10 tonnes and 7 metres tall it was originally a beacon on Tory Island before it was moved to Mew Island at the mouth of Belfast Lough in 1924. There it served as a vital navigation for ships coming into the port until it was removed when the lighthouse was automated. The Optic is soon to be installed at a new installation in the Belfast Titanic Quarter.
8. How many years has Fanad lighthouse been a guiding light for Donegal?
The light was first lit in Fanad Lighthouse on St Patrick’s March Day 17th 1817. The Lighthouse is one of the 12 Great Lighthouses of Ireland, located on the eastern shore of the Fanad Peninsula, standing watch over Lough Swilly and Mulroy Bay. The views from the point are spectacular and it’s a regular hangout for whales and dolphins.
9. The Metal Man at Rosses Point is a pretty unique beacon. Where is his twin located?
The Metal Man was designed by sculpture Thomas Kirk, who unveiled them at an exhibition in London in 1817. Four statues were cast from the same mould. One was installed in Tramore in 1823 set on top of one of three pillars located in Westown and the other Rosses Point in 1821. The whereabouts of the other two are unknown.
10. The centre piece to the National Maritime Museum is this beautiful optic from what Dublin Lighthouse?
There are thousands of fascinating maritime objects in the National Maritime Museum and one of the most eye catching is the Baily Optic, a functioning lighthouse optic from the Baily Lighthouse in Howth. The Optic stands impressively on the former altar, rotating and shining its light over the museum. It was donated by Irish Lights and was installed within the Baily Lighthouse from 1902 -1972. The light is dimmed some what now but originally the light was equivalent to 2,000,000 candles.
11. How many lighthouses would you pass while entering Dublin Port?
Poolbeg Lighthouse at the end of Great South wall is the most iconic of the three lighthouses. A second is located at the end of North Bull Wall and a third sits out in the bay.
12. After which type of animal were many of the Irish lightships names?
Lightships were floating, anchored lighthouses stationed where permanent structures could not be built. All of the lightvessels have now been decommissioned but some of the names included - Guillemot, Osprey, Puffin, Petrel and Kittiwake.
13. Ballycotton Lighthouse was built after the tragic sinking of the SS Sirius. What was notable about the ship's first crossing of the Atlantic?
Ballycotton is one of only two black lighthouses in Ireland. In 1938 the SS Sirius was the first ship to cross the Atlantic entirely under steam setting sail from London to New York by way of Cork. In 1847 she struck rocks in dense fog near Ballycotton and as a result the lighthouse was built and made operational in 1851.
14. What is particularly unusual about one of the lighthouses on Rathlin Island?
The West Light is one of three lighthouses on Rathlin Island. What is unusual about it is that it is an ‘upside-down lighthouse’. It was built between 1912 and 1917 at the top of Kebble Point. The cliff was too high for the light to be effective so it had to be placed some way down the cliff, making the lighthouse upside down!
15. The lighthouse at Wicklow Head can be rented out as a holiday home. How many steps do you have to walk up to reach the kitchen?
Wicklow Head Lighthouse was the one of two lighthouses built on the headland in 1781 and it’s one of twelve lighthouses which make up Great Lighthouses of Ireland.
16. The Irish Lights vessel is named after which legendary Irish figure?
ILV Granuaile maintains the automatic navigation buoys in Irish waters. It entered service in 2000 and can be used for a whole range of marine activities.
17. The Spire of Lloyd is not your typical lighthouse. What makes it stand apart from the rest in this list?
Spire of Lloyd is located over 40km from the coast! This is not quite a lighthouse but an 18th-century folly built in the form of a Doric column surmounted by a glazed lantern. It’s located on Hill of Lloyd in Kells.
18. Baily Lighthouse in Howth was the last manned lighthouse in Ireland. In which year was it finally automated?
A lighthouse was first built on this site in about 1667. On 24th March 1997 the last keepers left the lighthouse and it became fully automated
19. From Valentia Island lighthouse you can see some prehistoric footprints. What made them?
The fossilised tracks belong to a tetrapod, the first four legged creature vertebrates and date from somewhere between 350 and 370 million years ago.
20. This is the tallest onshore lighthouse in Ireland. Where is it located?
While Fastnet is Ireland’s tallest offshore lighthouse the eye catching black and yellow lighthouse at St John’s Point, Co Down is a vertigo inducing 40m tall. It was originally only 14m but was extended in the 1880’s
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