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Spectacular Sea Views on Hook Head Lighthouse Tour

23rd June 2019
Spectacular Sea Views on Hook Head Lighthouse Tour

Rounding the bend in the road that leads to the Hook Head Lighthouse you immediately know you have arrived at a unique place of beauty and history writes Mary Malone with photography by Bob Bateman.

Hook Lighthouse rises skyward showing itself against an azure blue sky. The mystery and history of this Lighthouse said to be the oldest intact operational Lighthouse in the world was brought to life by a wonderful and very knowledgeable guide by the name of Colm Ryan.

Hook Head Lighthouse19

From the moment you step in through the door the magic begins. It is very dark at first or so it seems, one needs to give time to allow one’s eyes to adjust to this darkened light. In this first chamber is housed on loan a three-sided glass lenses.

Hook Head Lighthouse19Hook Head Lighhouse Tour guide Colm Ryan. His father was a Lighthouse Keeper who also served on Tuskar Rock and Rockabill Photo: Bob Bateman

In the fifth century, a Monk named Dubhán established a Monastery at Hook Head. The first warning fire was lit by the monks to warn Mariners of the dangers of the perilous rocks that surround the peninsula. William Marshal who arrived in Ireland in the early thirteenth century realised the importance of the port of Waterford and its river system for trade and maritime transport. Marshal established the port of New Ross on the Barrow River, about 30 km from the sea. Ships needed to be guided safely into the harbour of Waterford through the dangerous waters around the Hook peninsula. To this end, he built a circular tower 30 meters high at the outer most tip of the peninsula to serve as a mark during the day and a fire tower during the night.

Hook Head Lighthouse19

"From the moment you step in through the door the magic begins"

The tower itself consists of three rib-vaulted chambers in the lower tier, while the upper, narrower section would have carried the warning beacon. These two tiers are connected with a mural (within the wall) stairway of 115 steps. The tower was constructed of local limestone and the original building survives intact. The first tier is 13m in diameter at the base and has three storeys, each with its original 13th-century stone fireplace. In the thickness of the wall there are a number of mural chambers, including two garderobes (toilets). The upper tier is 6m in diameter: originally it supported the beacon fire lit by the monks. Marshal granted the monks of the nearby monastery an annual assignment to act as guardians of the lighthouse, a task they carried out for several centuries. The monks lived in the tower that served as their monastery and a lighthouse. Today one can see evidence of where the chapel was at that time.

"Climb the 115 steps & you will be rewarded by spectacular views"

The first floor you come to is a glass-enclosed almost circular viewing platform giving you stunning views of the surrounding area looking across to Dunmore East. Climbing to the next floor on your journey to the top you will meet characters from the past through hologram and video. The 5th-century monk St Dubhan “The Greatest Knight”, William Marshal and stories from lighthouse keeps who lived at Hook will give you an insight into the past history of this amazing place. Having explored the building and climbed the 115 steps you will be rewarded by the spectacular views from this height above sea level.

Hook Head Lighthouse19Hook Head characters of the past come to life through the use of holograms and video

From the first beacon of light lit by monks to guide the Mariners safely on their journey, the lighthouse has had many changes to its lighting system from the first Fire to Coal, Oil (whale oil), Gas light, Paraffin Oil, (1911) Electricity (1972). In March 1996 Hook Lighthouse was switched to operate automatically and the last of the lighthouse keepers manually turned on the light for the last time before automation took over. Today it is monitored remotely by the Commissioners of Irish Lights in Dun Laoghaire.

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Irish Lighthouses

Irish Lights is a maritime organisation delivering essential 24/7 safety and navigation services around the coast of Ireland 365 days. Its focus is reliable and cost-effective services which protect people, property and the marine environment, and support marine industry and coastal communities.

Irish Lights is responsible for providing marine aids to navigation under the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention. This remit includes: providing and maintaining over 300 general aids to navigation, managing about 4,000 local aids to navigation and marking or removing dangerous wrecks outside harbour areas around Ireland. Irish Lights also provides contract commercial services for ship charter, buoy and marine data services and supports tourism and heritage activities.

Emergency Response: If you notice any aid to navigation is not functioning correctly please contact our 24-hour emergency number 01 280 1996

Great Lighthouses of Ireland

St John's Point, Co Donegal 
Fanad Head, Co Donegal
Rathlin West Light, Co Antrim
Blackhead, Co Antrim
St John’s Point, Co Down
Wicklow Head, Co Wicklow
The Great Light and Titanic Walkway, Belfast
Hook, Co Wexford
Ballycotton, Co Cork
Galley Head, Co Cork
Valentia Island, Co Kerry
Loop Head, Co Clare
Clare Island, Co Mayo
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