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Ireland's First Marine National Park - Irish Lights Welcomes Inclusion of Inishtearaght & Skellig Michael Lighthouses

22nd April 2024
Ireland’s first new Marine National Park (Páirc Náisiúnta na Mara) of 70,000 acres on the Corca Dhuibhne peninsula in west Kerry has been welcomed by Irish Lights with its inclusion of the Inishtearaght and Skellig Michael lighthouses.
Ireland’s first new Marine National Park (Páirc Náisiúnta na Mara) of 70,000 acres on the Corca Dhuibhne peninsula in west Kerry has been welcomed by Irish Lights with its inclusion of the Inishtearaght and Skellig Michael lighthouses. Credit: ilovetheSkelligs-facebook

Ireland’s inaugural Marine National Park, Páirc Náisiúnta na Mara,Ciarraí, has been unveiled today and Irish Lights is delighted to announce the inclusion of Inishtearaght and Skellig Michael lighthouses, which have been in operation since the early 1800’s.

The significant announcement this afternoon (of the 70,000 acre park, mostly at sea) by Minister for Housing, Local Government & Heritage Darragh O’Brien TD and Minister of State with for Nature, Heritage & Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan TD in Dingle, Kerry, signifies a pivotal moment in Ireland’s commitment to preserving our marine biodiversity and cultural heritage.

Inishtearaght Lighthouse, located on a rock off the coast of Co Kerry, has a history as fascinating as its surroundings. Constructed in 1870, it stands as a testament to Ireland's maritime heritage and the enduring efforts to ensure the safety of seafarers navigating the Atlantic Ocean. From North to South, the lighthouses at Inishtearaght, Skelligs, Bull Rock, Sheep Head and Fastnet provide critical information to mariners as they approach the Southwest coast of Ireland from seaward, and for ships on coastal passages between the Tier 1 ports located in Cork Harbour and Shannon Foynes, or onwards to Galway Port.

In addition, the different lighthouses provide important landfall directions to fishing vessels as bring their catch back to their home ports in Dingle and Castletownbere, plus to the tourism and leisure vessels which operate seasonally around the Blasket Islands to and from Dingle, Skelligs to and from Knightstown and Portmagee, and the many sailing and boating facilities located around the Bantry Bay and Roaringwater Bay areas.

Each lighthouse displays a different sequence of flashes, which is known as the character of the light. The off-lying lighthouses in the chain are also fitted with Radar Beacons, known as Racon, which return a morse signal when they detect a ship’s radar, allowing for a positive identification of the lighthouse location from a longer range, thus improving safety for the mariner. Inishtearaght flashes twice every twenty seconds, which distinguishes it from the Skelligs lights, which flash three times every fifteen seconds. Inishtearaght is also fitted with an Automatic Identification System (AIS) beacon, which is a radio aid to navigation showing the position and name of the lighthouse.

Yvonne Shields O’ Connor, CEO, Irish Lights said, “the lighthouses and electronic aids to navigation provided by Irish Lights fulfils Ireland’s legal commitments under the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention. Each lighthouse gives a visual reference for mariners when within sight of land, and further offshore for radar and radio transmissions. As Irish Lights goes about its work ensuring safe navigation around the coast, we are cognisant of the amazing marine locations that we operate in and of the need to work with relevant state bodies and coastal communities to continue to protect our maritime heritage. We are delighted to be associated with Páirc Náisiúnta na Mara and to support the work of NPWS and OPW protecting our maritime history, built heritage and natural landscapes, and the invaluable ecosystems they support.”

Published in Lighthouses
Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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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

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