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Displaying items by tag: lighthouses

#IrishLightsHQ - The striking designed headquarters of the Commissioners of Irish Lights is one of numerous places of interest to visit in this year's Open House Dublin.

The iconic landmark building that integrates seamlessly into its marine environment along the waterfront within Dún Laoghaire Harbour is open on Sunday 19 October, 12.00pm – 5.00pm

In 2008 Scott Tallon Walker Architects completed the building which comprises two main structures - a circular open-plan office building, linked via an elegant glass enclosed bridge, to a rectilinear engineering maintenance facility. The building utilises many innovative technologies to ensure sustainable building design and energy efficiency.

Visitor Information: First-come basis, just turn up and look out for Open House Dublin volunteers. Last entry: 30 minutes prior to closing. Closest Dart/Rail: Dún Laoghaire.

Visit the Open House Dublin website HERE, which is presented by the Irish Architecture Foundation. From 17 to 19 October over 100 tours, events and workshops will invite you to explore the rich architecture of Dublin. Events are completely free, with most available on a first-come basis.


Published in Lighthouses

#loopheadlight – Visitors to Loop Head Lighthouse increased by 7.5% during the West Clare landmark's 6-month opening period up to yesterday (Sunday, October 5th).

Figures released today by Clare County Council, which manages the facility in conjunction with the Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL), reveal that a record 20,368 people visited the 19th century lighthouse.

61% of the total visitor figure was represented by Irish visitors, with North America, the United Kingdom (UK) and Germany each accounting for 8% of the overall figure. Italian and French visitors meanwhile, represented just over 5% of the total figure.

Gerard Dollard, Director of Services, Tourism & Community, Clare County Council said visitor numbers at the lighthouse were buoyed by the development of new services at Shannon Airport, favourable weather conditions during September, and the launch of the Wild Atlantic Way.

"Loop Head Lighthouse is now finishing its fourth year of operation as a visitor attraction. During this time, it has become firmly established as one of Clare's most popular visitor attractions," he said.

Mr. Dollard continued: "Visitor numbers in 2014 have been very much helped by the launch of additional services to and from Shannon Airport and the strong start-up promotion of the Wild Atlantic Way. Of particular notice has been the very strong visitor numbers during the month of September which was no doubt helped by the very fine weather but also by large numbers of American visitors."

"In 2014, the Council provided additional toilet facilities at the site and upgraded and improved the car park area. We will now review the season and examine what further improvements and additional visitor experience can be put in place for 2015," he concluded.

Loop Head Lighthouse, located at the mouth of the Shannon Estuary, is steeped in history and rich in maritime heritage with its origins dating back to the 1670s. The existing tower style lighthouse was constructed in 1854 and was operated and maintained by a keeper who lived within the lighthouse compound.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny's grandfather was a keeper at the lighthouse. James John McGinley took up duty at the Lighthouse as Principal Keeper on 16th January 1933. He spent 1 year and 10 months at Loop Head. He was transferred from the station in October 1934. In January 1991, the lighthouse was converted to automatic operation, and today is in the care of an attendant and is also monitored by the CIL. The Lighthouse is today one of the key discovery points along the route of the Wild Atlantic Way.

Published in Lighthouses
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#FloatingHotel - The operators of UK's last royal yacht, Britannia, a major visitor attraction in Leith have acquired Fingal, a former Scottish tender of the Northern Lighthouse Board, which on occasions worked in Irish waters having called to Dun Laoghaire Harbour, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The near £1 million investment of Windsor Castle, the current name of the classically designed ship built in 1963, is to be converted into a 25 bedroom luxury 'boatique' hotel. She will be berthed permanently adjacent to Britannia in Edinburgh's historic port of Leith.

Fingal was the final ship built by Blythswood Shipbuilding Company in Glasgow. The Leith registered vessel spent most of her Northern Lighthouse Board career of 30 years from Oban followed by her last 6 years based in Stromness, Orkney.

On occasions Fingal shared duties between the three General Lighthouse Authority (GLA) that service aids to navigation throughout the waters of the UK and Ireland.

The tenders continue such operations between the three GLA's, they are the Northern Lighthouse Board (responsible for Scotland and the Isle of Man), Trinity House (England, Wales and the Channel Islands) and the Commissioners of Irish Lights for all waters around this island.

It was during a call by Fingal to Dun Laoghaire Harbour in 1994 that also included Trinity House's Mermaid. This was a rare meeting to witness as  two GLA tenders not from Irish Lights were working in our waters.

Mermaid since sold currently works as Ocean Observer for Gardline Marine Services. As previously reported they also operate the former Irish Lights tender Granuaile dating from 1970 and renamed Ocean Seeker.

Having boarded the Fingal during that call to Dun Laoghaire, the 1,432 tonnes vessel had wonderful timber decks and wood panelled exteriors belonging to a bygone era.

In 2000 her career ended with NLB selling her to Tamahine Shipping and for many years she remained laid-up in the River Fal, Falmouth. Fortunately, the 239 foot long veteran vessel which is nearly two-thirds of the size of Britannia has been maintained to the highest standards.

Last Friday she arrived into Leith Docks (click PICS to enlarge). During the week she is relocate to a more permanent berth where she is to undergo a 18 month conversion to be completed for opening in Spring 2016.

According to a spokesperson in contact with, the work is likely to be carried out by a combination of a team of 20 full-time maintenance staff from the Royal Britannia Yacht Trust (operators of the visitor attraction) and that of an interior design firm(s).

Developing a floating hotel adjacent to the Britannia represents natural organic growth for the Trust, which has the requisite management skills in-house, and servicing demand from both day visitors and evening event guests for quality accommodation.

Commenting on the announcement, Britannia's CEO Bob Downie said, 'After many years of searching for the right ship, we are delighted that we have been able to acquire this iconic vessel and look forward to opening Scotland's first boatique hotel. As a youngster growing up in Oban I have very fond memories of seeing the Fingal and I am delighted that the long-term future of another much loved classic vessel has been secured."

When the new 'boatique' opens she will be berthed adjacent to Britannia, which since her launch in 1953 had toured the world during her 44 years career serving as the British royal yacht for Queen Elizabeth II and members of the royal family.

She would sail to the western Scottish isles for the family's annual fortnight summer holiday cruise which would end by berthing at Aberdeen to allow the monarch to travel to her private residence at Balmoral Castle.

After travelling more than 1 million nautical miles, calling at 600 ports in 135 countries, Britannia was decommissioned in 1997. Her ship's bell as previously reported is on display in Trinity House, London, the headquarters of the English lighthouse authority which celebrates its 500th anniversary this year.

Britannia is officially Scotland's best visitor attraction for the last nine years and the UK's No.1 attraction by TripAdvisor for 2014. Annually she attracts 300,000 visitors. She is renowned for delivering the highest quality of customer experience and the addition of the hotel ship will fit neatly within the overall brand.


Published in Lighthouses

#lighthouses – Among the events celebrating the 500th anniversary of Trinity House this year which included the launch of a commemorative photographic book as previously reported, an 'Open Day' is to be held on 20 September at their headquarters in London, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The origins of Trinity House date to 1514 when Henry VIII granted the Corporation of Trinity House a royal charter establishing it as an authority in maritime matters within his kingdom. Later its remit was expanded to include responsibility for the provision and maintenance of aids to navigation within the waters of England, Wales and the Channel Islands.

On occasions, lighthouse tenders share duties by relieving other vessels working for the three General Lighthouse Authorities (GLA). Asides Trinity House the GLA is also made up by the Northern Lighthouse Board, responsible for Scottish and Isle of Man waters. Our Commissioners of Irish Lights whose remit covers all aids to navigation around the island of Ireland.

In May an official ceremony to mark the quincentenary of the Corporation of Trinity House took place at Trinity House located on Tower Hill overlooking the historic Tower of London. On that occasion another Open Day was held for members of the public to view the house built in 1794.

The House has a wealth of historic and valuable paintings plus antiques, bears out the UK's remarkable nautical heritage. One of its more recent acquisitions is the brass bell from the Royal Yacht Britannia which was decommissioned in 1997 and remains open to public tours in Leith, the port for Edinburgh.

On the next Open Day, there is no need to contact Trinity House, as interested day-visitors can simply arrive and wander about the House at their leisure and information available from expert guides. Visiting hours are confined only to that date (Saturday 20 Sept) between 10am – 3pm.

Otherwise tours of Trinity House are organised (but charged at a fee) on selected dates in 2015.  Booking is essential and can be done by calling 00 44 (0)20 7481 6900 or emailing: [email protected] For futher information, click HERE.



Published in Lighthouses

#lighthouses – The Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL) has the first permanent Virtual Aid to Navigation charted in Irish Waters on the 5th June 2014. The port hand Virtual Aid to Navigation was established at the entrance to Belfast Lough on the North East Coast of Ireland. This was in response to a newly reported shoal depth of 8.0 metres at the Rigg Bank.

CIL explored various options to ensure the shoal depth was addressed correctly. One option was to place a buoy to mark the pinnacle depth. However, after completing a Risk Assessment and extensive Automatic Identification System (AIS) analysis, it was clear the buoy would introduce a new danger in the relatively deep water. As a result, the port hand Virtual Aid to Navigation was chosen and deployed approximately half a nautical mile east of the position of the new pinnacle depth on the 20th November 2013.

Deirdre Lane, Navigation Policy Officer in CIL commented "It was found that deep draft vessels which need to have the pinnacle depth highlighted the most, are those that have the capability for a Virtual Aid to Navigation to be displayed on their on-board systems. In this unique set of circumstances, it was clear the Virtual Aid to Navigation was the best option".

One of the functionalities of AIS is that a land based AIS station can be used to transmit the position of an AIS Aid to Navigation that does not physically exist in the water. It is represented as a digital symbol on the ships Radar, Electronic Display and Information System (ECDIS) or Integrated Navigation System.

In order to bring the Virtual Aid to Navigation to the Mariners attention, it was officially mapped on navigational charts by the UKHO at CIL's request on 5th June 2014. As a result, CIL is responsible for the first permanent charted Virtual AIS Aid to Navigation in Irish waters.

Published in Lighthouses

#Lighthouses - Check out this amazing video (care of the Irish Coast Guard's Facebook page) of daredevil lighthouse keepers changing shift off the coast of France.

With the rough seas far too choppy for boats to move in close to the rocky island beneath the lighthouse, the only option is to zip back and forth via a rope thrown from the tower secured to the vessel.

That's one job that's definitely not for the faint-hearted!

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#PlassyWreckExhibition- As previously reported on, Inisheer Lighthouse on the easternmost of the Aran Islands, was installed with a new light emitting diode (LED) light by the Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL) last month.

The Iighthouse is a highly important Aid to Navigation (AtoN) as this safeguards the considerable traffic between Inisheer and Co. Clare. It also marks the south-eastern end of the Aran Islands and the western side of the southern approach route to Galway Bay.

It stands 34 metres and this is to ensure visibility of the light due to the low-lying nature of the Island. A red sector of the light delineates the potential danger of Finnis Rock lying to the east.

As previously reported on, it was during a passage of the Plassy, a Limerick Steamship Co. owned general cargoship which ran aground in a severe storm off Finnis Rock in 1960.

The wreck of the vessel is of TV 'Father Ted' fame, having featured in the opening credits and is the theme for an exhibition 'Art of Rust – From Rust to Art' which this afternoon opens (from 5pm till 7pm) in the National Maritime Museum of Ireland (NMMI) Dun Laoghaire.


Published in Lighthouses

#FinnishBuoys – Finnish state-owned company Meritaito Ltd, originally Finnish Maritime Administration are joining forces with Commissioners of Irish Lights on testing of 'spar' buoys normally used in Baltic Sea ice-flows and not the Irish Sea, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Meritaito which specialises in the maintenance and development of waterways and marine infrastructure are to carry out performance and survivability tests on spar buoys as part of the Dublin Bay Digital Diamond (see interactive map) from new-look CIL website.

Finland has to contend and experience icy waterway conditions and so they have developed the Spar buoys which are of a slimmer 'tube' structure design. This design has enabled easier conditions better suited for dealing with ice-flows.

Despite the particular suitability of design, they can suffer from conspicuity problems when compared to their Irish counterparts in the use of conventional buoys.

CIL's aids to navigation tender ILV Granuaile, based at her homeport HQ in Dun Laoghaire Harbour, is scheduled to deploy the spar buoys later this late summer.

The two spar buoys, one cardinal, the other lateral, are to be deployed in close proximity to the Bennet Bank off the eastern fringes of Dublin Bay and the West Blackwater buoy which is on the Irish Sea.


Published in Lighthouses

#Lighthouses - The world's oldest operational lighthouse is worth a visit for any tourists in the Sunny Southeast, but now anyone can take a virtual tour of the Hook Head lighthouse from the comfort of their own home - or anywhere, if you're using a laptop!

Placed at the top of Lonely Planet's list of the 'Top 10 Flashiest Lighthouses', the Hook Head light has been opened to the public as a tourist attraction each year since 2001, and is a great spot for watching whales and dolphins.

Now the breathtaking view afforded from the top of this towering fixture of the Wexford coastline can be seen from anywhere in the world. Click HERE to see for yourself!

Published in Lighthouses

#Lighthouses - reports on the rescue of a repairman left dangling 40 feet in the air from the side of a lighthouse in Northern Ireland after the scaffolding he was standing on collapsed.

The NI Ambulance Service tweeted this image of the worker's precarious situation at St John's Point Lighthouse near Donwpatrick yesterday (14 March).

Thankfully the man was rescued shortly after with no serious injuries sustained.

See the dizzying predicament for yourself:

Published in Lighthouses
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