Rock Lighthouse “Tear Drop of Ireland”
West Cork has a rugged coastline, riddled with islands, castles, harbours and inlets that provide a haven for seals and bird life. If the weather does not lend itself for an offshore adventure, then there is always the beautiful Roaringwater Bay, Carbery's 100 Isles, Kedges, Cape Clear, Sherkin as most islands provide a sheltered / lea side for calmer conditions. A highlight for visitors is an evening boat tour:
Sunset tours to the Fastnet Rock with her elegant lighthouse to catch the amazing light and colours particularly on sunny evenings on board the Wave Chieftain. Tours depart from the main steps on the ferry pier. The departure time obviously depends on the time of sunset but typically is between 6 and 8pm. On this 3.5 hour tour the boat typically cruises on the south side of Sherkin Island, past the Gasnanane Sound and Cape Clear before venturing across the Fastnet Sound to this beautiful lighthouse. After circumnavigating the lighthouse we return to Baltimore harbour via Roaringwater Bay to see some of Carbery 100 Isles or the south side of the islands if there are likely sightings of whales and dolphins.
Vibrant red skies - subject to weather conditions of course, and regulalor sightings of whales and dolphins (as well as seals) along this beautiful offshore cruise of Ireland's most southwesterly coastal waters. Rugged cliffs, rockes, islands, harbours, sea caves and sea arches populated by sea birds as well as basking sharks (in Spring and Summer), Mola-Mola or sunfish and occasionally orca or killer whales.
For 2022 season (subject to weather & minimum / maximum numbers)
Book (online) to reserve your spaces commission-free with a credit card & if the calendar does not list the tour for your preferred date contact us as we can add more tours to the schedule (subject to minimum numbers and suitable sea conditions)
Fastnet Lighthouse - History
The Fastnet Lighthouse is one of the most exposed in the world and is the tallest and widest rock lighthouse tower in Ireland and Great Britain. Also known as the Teardrop of Ireland (thousands of emigrants wiped away a tear when they ventured to the New World, unsure if they would ever set foot on Ireland again), the current lighthouse dates from the early 20th century and measures 54 metres (or 49 above mean high water springs) as some courses of the stonework are below the surface. It replaced a cast iron structure built on An Charraig Aonair (or lonely rock) in the 1850s.
The first lighthouse here was commissioned on January 1st, 1854. However, due to the building material (cast iron) suffering from the pounding winter storms and salt air it was decided to replace it with a granite tower which took 5 years to build and was completed in 1904. The granite blocks from Cornwall totalled 2,074 inter-locking stones, weighing from 1¾ to 3 tons and the lighthouse measures 54 mtr with a white flashing light every 5 seconds. and a range of 27 nautical miles (50 km). The Fastnet Lighthouse was manned by four crew but eventually became automated and converted to unwatched at the end of March 1989. A inner circular staircase leads to 7 floor levels.
The Corporation of Trinity House sanctioned the first lighthouse, a cast iron tower (cast-iron plates bolted together, with an inner lining of brick) designed by George Halpin, in 1848 to replace the Cape Clear Lighthouse, which was too far inside the dangers, too high and too foggy. This was, following a shipping disaster of the sinking of the Stephen Whitney and the loss of life of 92 or her 110 passengers and crew on 10 November 1847. Three dwellings were built at Rock Island at the entrance to Crookhaven Harbour to house the Lightkeepers’ families. The Tower was finished in 1853 and the light first shown on January 1st. 1854. The total cost including the dwellings was £20,000.
On November 26th. 1881 a similar tower on the Calf Rock was carried away in a gale. In the same gale the sea broke the glass on the Fastnet lantern. In 1883 an explosive fog signal was installed. A charge of gun cotton was electrically fired every five minutes during fog or thick haze. In 1891 the Irish Lights Board resolved that the light on the Fastnet was not powerful enough for its position as the principal landfall light on the southwest coast. They applied for the sanction of the Elder Brethren of Trinity House to build a new tower to make it the best possible light.