The 10 most beautiful lighthouses in Ireland
I have no idea why I love lighthouses. Since I was a child they always fascinated me. Don't ask my why. I was so lucky to live in Ireland by the Irish Sea for seven years. I saw my first ever lighthouse there too. It's a love forever. I also collect them - I know I can't help myself.
There are approximately 80 lighthouses in Ireland but of course I won't bore you with all. I tried to choose the top 10 most beautiful ones that I really like. They are really important although the lighthouse keepers gone and the GPS technology came but they are still very important. Why? I think Lisa Wingate describes them really well:
"What does a lighthouse do? I ask myself. It never moves. It cannot hike up its rocky skirt and dash into the ocean to rescue the foundering ship. It cannot calm the waters or clear the shoals. It can only cast light into the darkness. It can only point the way. Yet, through one lighthouse, you guide many ships. Show this old lighthouse the way."
So here comes my 10 favourite lighthouses in Ireland. You may have other favourites.
My absolute favourite is the last lighthouse so if you want to find out more about it then you should read my whole hub.
1. Baily Lighthouse
It's a beautiful lighthouse what you can even see from Dublin. This was the last Irish lighthouse that became automatic. The last keeper left on March 24, 1997. Unfortunately it's not open to the public all the time only once a year during the Howth Peninsula Festival. It's located on Howth Head, only 13 km from Dublin City Centre.
2. Fanad Head Lighthouse
It's located in County Donegal and it's a famous one too. In 2013 it's voted the second most beautiful lighthouse in the world (the first was the Lindau lighthouse in Germany). It is the most Northerly lighthouse in Ireland and I was told that is actually a bit higher than the Eiffel Tower. I don't even have to mention the view from here. It's absolutely amazing. You can see the Inishowen Peninsula and of course the wild Atlantic Ocean.
You can even take a picture of Fanad Head Lighthouse from the sea thanks to the Rathmullan Charters who organize trips.
3. Fastnet Lighthouse
The Fastnet Lighthouse is located in County Cork. It's also called the 'Teardrop of Ireland' because this was the last sight that the Irish emigrants saw when they were sailing to America. The Mizen Head Fog Signal Station is also operated here plus a weather station.
Now there is a visitor centre where you can learn a lot about the life of the keepers, about the place's history. You can even spot whales and dolphins in the sea. When it's foggy and misty the lighthouse and its surroundings become really mysterious.
Fastnet is the highest lighthouse in Ireland and the most southerly point of the country. The first one was built in 1897 but they had to reconstruct it because it was too weak or the gales too strong. The second one started to operate in 1904 and in 1989 became automated. In 1985 a so called killer wave or rouge wave struck it, it was 48 m high.
4. Loop Head Lighthouse
Loop Head Lighthouse is located in County Clare in Western Ireland. It has been a lighthouse since 1670 but the tower we can see today was built in 1854. It's 23 metres high and it was automated in 1991.
Fortunately they opened it to the public this year, from April to August. You can join a guided tour, visit the tower and even the balcony. The view is absolutely fantastic here. When the weather is nice you can even see the Blasket Islands in the south and the Twelve Pins in the north. Admission fee is €5 (adults) and €2 (kids). Family ticket costs €12 (2 adults and up to 3 children). If you visit it in high season there can be queue.
5. Bull Rock Lighthouse
Bull Rock Lighthouse is located in County Cork on a very small island called Dursey Island. This tiny island is connected to the mainland by a cable car which is Ireland's only one. There are no pubs, shops or anything really here.
It was established in 1866 on Calf Rock but there was a very wild storm when the cast-iron tower was destroyed and the a replacement lighthouse was built on Bull Rock. It's not open to the public but it's not really easy to get there either. It always depends on the weather whether you can travel there or not.
Peter Cox, Irish photographer, spent 2 nights there with the permission of the Commissioners of Irish Lights. He travelled there by helicopter and he also wrote a fascinating story about his stay. Beautiful pictures were also taken by him.
6. Cromwell Point Lighthouse
Cromwell Point Lighthouse or they also call it Valentia Lighthouse at Cromwell Point is open to the public since 2013. It's open from May to September but the opening time always depends on the weather conditions.
The lighthouse was also the home to the Cromwell Feetwood Fort that was built in the 16th century. The first light was installed here in 1828 ann in 1947 it became automated. It was always served by a single keeper whose family also lived on site. In 1947 the keeper left and a part-time attendant worked there.
7. Skelligs Lighthouse
There were actually two lighthouses on this small island, called Skellig Michael. This is actually the most important light on the south west coast of Ireland. It's located only 12.8 km from the mainland. The upper lighthouse was discontinued because there was a new light established on the mos westerly part of the Blasket Islands in 1870. The Lower Lighthouse was modernised in the 1960s which is still in use. In 1987 it became fully automated.
8. Tarbert Lighthouse
Tarbert Lighthouse was built in 1834 and it's located in County Kerry. It's a 22-meter-high lighthouse and a footbridge connects to the mainland. If you want to take a good picture of it then you have to be on the opposite side of the River Shannon, near Killimer. You can also take the ferry between Tarbert and Killimer, the view is marvellous from the upper deck. Unfortunately the tower and the site are closed for the public.
9. Blackhead Lighthouse
Blackhead Lighthouse is located in Northern Ireland, in County Antrim; about 32 km from Belfast. This is my ideal place for a holiday because you can actually rent the Lightkeeper's House. Just imagine spending a couple of nights there while listening to the sound of the waves.
There are two separate houses: House number 1 can accommodate 5 people while House number 2 up to 7 people. They are pretty spacious. The price depends on the season and of course the length of the stay. In low season, mid-week it will cost you £312. During high season it can be more expensive, £973 for a week.
It's an ideal place to go for coastal walks, you can actually start it at your front door. If you are an artistic person then this place is perfect for you. It's highly inspirational - the sea and the landscape are just amazing. Be prepared it's really hard to leave this place.
The lighthouse is only a very short away from the keeper's house and it was built in the mid 19th century, it probably guided Titanic to her last trip too.
10. Hook Head Lighthouse
Hook Head Lighthouse is my favourite one, it's located in County Wexford. It brings me back good memories of Ireland. It's a very famous too because it's the oldest intact lighthouse in the world. Me and my husband visited it on a rainy day but we didn't mind it because it was even more magical and mystical. The wild waves, the drizzling rain and the impressive lighthouse - it was a perfect day.
It was built 800 years ago and it's still operating. The building itself is from the 13th century with walls up to 4 metres thick. If you climb the 115 steps then you'll be rewarded with an amazing view of the wild Atlantic Ocean. We climbed up and it was absolutely worth is.
In the Lightkeeper's House you'll find a gift shop where I bought my small Hook Head Lighthouse. Did I tell you that I collect mini lighthouses? There's also a café where we had the best cake ever, I mean it. They also organize art workshops for kids and adults and they also have maritime displays and art exhibits.
We also went for a walk when the rain stopped. The coastal area is absolutely marvellous. For me it was an experience for lifetime. I hope I can visit it again soon. Check out our photos that we shoot there.
Our Hook Head Lighthouse trip
Travel related links in Ireland
- Irish Lighthouse Tours
Tour Ireland, Lighthouses Ireland, prints, tours, and workshops by Ireland's best known lighthouse photographer John Eagle
- Aer Lingus- cheap flights, gift vouchers, hotels, car hire, & travel insurance
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- Bus Éireann - View Ireland Bus and Coach Timetables; Buy Tickets
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- Car Rental Dublin | City Centre and Dublin Airport Car Hire
Dublin Airport and Dublin City Centre car hire. Rent a car at Dublin Airport or from centre located offices across Dublin.
- Ireland rail travel information - Iarnród Éireann - Irish Rail
Use the website to buy train tickets, reserve seats, check train times, destinations, new trains and information useful for your rail journey