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Displaying items by tag: Kish Lighthouse 50th

#Kish50HSSgone - An exhibition in Dun Laoghaire celebrating the Kish Lighthouse 50th anniversary on Dublin Bay is currently on display, however the Stena Line HSS service to Holyhead which was withdrawn only last year has been outlived by the iconic lighthouse, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The venue for the Kish Lighthouse exhibition (until 21 November) is at the National Maritime Museum of Ireland located almost directly opposite of the present day iconic landmark of the LexIcon Library that overlooks the East Pier.

In addition the LexIcon as a new civic building has commanding sweeping views of the harbour, Dublin Bay and to the Baily Lighthouse on Howth Peninsula. Further offshore on the horizon stands the Kish Lighthouse all 31 metres high. The lighthouse replaced a lightship that likewise of the new lighthouse was manned until automated in 1992. The current character of the light exhibited has a range of 22 nautical miles.

Back onshore, Ireland’s most popular pedestrian pier, the East Pier is featured as part of the historic Pathé news footage (see above) as the Kish Lighthouse is ‘floated’ out of Dun Loghaire harbour from where the uniquely constructed structure was built. The design for the Commissioners of Irish Lights was of that of a concentric circular concrete tower based from similar yet smaller models in Sweden, and was towed from the harbour some seven nautical miles offshore to the Kish Bank.

The departing lighthouse structure under tow from the harbour even now looks futuristic and likewise to when I recall witnessing the first arrival of the Swedish owned yet Finnish built HSS Stena Explorer. She made her debut just over three decades later after the lighthouse began service. The fast-ferry was sold this Autumn and is currently under tow while bound for a new career in Turkey, which as previously reported leads to query her future role? given that her owners operate 'floating' generating powerships!

Returning to the Pathé news reel, (some 30 seconds in) on the left side of the screen can be seen white buildings on the East Pier. They belonged to the harbour's first albeit temporary car-ferry terminal (another controversary! of the time). The facility was completed a year before the installation of the Kish Lighthouse in 1965. The terminal's appearance comprised of metal constructed halls more akin to factory warehouses! In fact the terminal building extended almost the entire width of the East Pier!... click for Photo.

It was during that year's summer that the introduction of the first roll-on roll-off 'carferry' on the Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead route begin service with a resounding success. The traditional 'mail-boats' maintained a year-round service based out of the Carlisle Pier. From there cars were crane-hoisted on board for many years, however tourism interests lobbied for a carferry service from the early 1960's.

This led to Dun Laoghaire Harbour’s first ferry terminal with a ro-ro linkspan that protruded from the East Pier Jetty. The facility was inaugurated by the Irish-Walsh route’s first purpose built car-ferry, the unimaginatively named but pioneering Holyhead Ferry 1. The new carferry was delayed entering service from her builders and instread the English Channel based Normannia opened the seasonal 'car' service. 

Normannia originally a passenger-ferry had been converted to carry cars was eventually replaced by Holyhead Ferry 1 that season. The Scottish built stern-only carferry loaded and offloaded vehicles while berthed at the East Pier linkspan, though this structure located off the jetty has long since been demolished.

The berth at this East Pier Jetty until recent years has long been associated with the customary visits of Irish Naval Service patrol ships, however this part of the pier is to undergo a reincarnation. That been as previously reported on Afloat, the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company’s ‘Urban Beach’, a €2.5 million heated floating swimming pool inspired by the 'Badeschiff' in Berlin.

The project will involve a converted river barge at the East Pier following last year’s planning permission granted by An Bord Pleanála. The planning authority is to make a decision (see SOS protest) following oral hearings into DLHC’s single €18m cruise-berth in January 2016. DLHC cited should a suitable ferry operator be found it would not be until 2016 and that the Ireland-Wales service like the HSS service would be run on a season-only basis.

Seven operators responded earlier this year following an invite from DLHC for those expressing an interest to operate such a service, however this would not involve the idle Stena HSS berth at the terminal on St. Michaels Wharf. The same site dates back to the original purpose-built terminal dating from 1969 that replaced the facility on the East Pier.

Dun Laoghaire Harbour's only remaining ferry berth (last used several years ago by a smaller Stena 'Lynx' fast -ferry) is also located on the Wharf. This linkspan facility adapted from a conventional carferry berth was also in use by Stena tonnage until the early 1990's.

The future role of the St. Michaels Wharf ferry terminal is now centre stage given DLHC's proposed cruise-berth is to connect to the terminal's former HSS vehicle marshalling bays where cruise passengers would use awaiting coaches and taxi's. At the same time, there are plans at the same site put forward by the Dun Laoghaire Combined Clubs for a National Watersports Centre. 

Remnants of another ro-ro linkspan on Carlisle Pier still visible, ceased use in 1996 when Stena Adventurer (ex. Stena Hibernia / St. Columba of Sealink British Rail ) was replaced by the Stena HSS. The revolutionary fast-ferry was also a pioneering venture on the route for almost two decades.

The old ro-ro's concrete berth's structure with operations hut can be seen from the Royal St. George Yacht Club albeit the corresponding linkspan is gone should you peer through the railings that bound the pier's car-park.

This part of the Carlisle Pier is the closest the public can access when small sized cruiseships have berthed since the trade returned to the harbour in recent years. While larger deeper draft cruiseships anchor offshore, notably the last caller of this season was the newbuild Mein Schiff 4.


Published in Dublin Bay

#[email protected] The Commissioners of Irish Lights today welcomed the visit of President Michael D Higgins and Mrs. Sabina Higgins to join the Board and staff to say 'Happy Birthday' as the Kish Lighthouse celebrates 50 years of service on the 9th November 2015.

Imagine what that means.

How many millions of passengers have watched the Kish fade over the horizon as they emigrated to Britain and beyond? How many have watched its welcoming flash guide them safely back home to Ireland?

95% of everything we use arrives and leaves by sea. Imagine the cargoes made safe by the Kish Light. The agricultural products, the machinery, the building materials, the household goods, the cars, the clothes; every single staple of our lives has passed the great guiding lighthouse on the Kish.

As a witness to social history the Kish has seen significant change. Containerisation has changed the ships and crews, air travel has changed the passenger numbers, fuel costs have allowed it witness the growth and subsequent decline of fast vessels such as Jetfoil and HSS. (See, Afloat's latest report on the former Stena Explorer currently heading for Turkey).

Consider the lives of the Lighthouse Keepers who lived on the tower until automation in 1992.

The Kish Lighthouse is not just a seamark but a very significant engineering landmark of its day. The lighthouse replaced a lightship which was one of a series of such vessels that marked the Kish Bank since 1811 – meaning that there has been a continuous light on the Kish for the 204 years.

Published in Lighthouses

#[email protected] - One of Ireland’s most famous and unique lighthouses, the Kish Bank Lighthouse off Dublin Bay, celebrates its 50th anniversary today having been commissioned into service on 9th November 1965, writes Jehan Ashmore.

At 31m high, the lighthouse which is an iconic symbol on the Dublin Bay horizon replaced a lightship understood to have been the Gannet. On that same day five decades ago the lightship was withdrawn and the first flashes were exhibited by the new lighthouse.

A light to ward off seafarers from the dangerous sands of the Kish Bank can be first traced back to more than 200 years ago. This earliest light was exhibited on 16 November 1811 which involved several small vessels of just over 100 tonnes each to share duties. Crews were tasked in using a floating light.

For the last half-century, the Kish Lighthouse located some 7 nautical miles offshore of Dun Laoghaire Harbour, from where the structure was built, has continued to provide the role as an important aids to navigation to seafarers.

In addition the Kish Lighthouse, albeit of Swedish design represents a significant moment in Ireland’s marine engineering heritage given the majority of the work was carried out by an Irish labour force.

The design origins of the Kish Lighthouse began in the early 1960’s as the Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL) considered using a platform similar to those used as oil rigs for lighthouses purposes. Stemming from this nine engineering firms were asked to submit design tenders for such a lighthouse. The Swedish firm of Messrs Christiani & Nielsen Ltd was selected.

Their design was not for a steel platform like an oil rig but a concrete structure designed to last for at least 75 years and based on the lines of similar yet smaller models from Sweden. The reason for a larger version for the Kish Bank was so to cope with the rougher sea conditions of the Irish Sea.

Construction took place near St. Michaels Wharf (site of the former Stena HSS ferry terminal). Built of reinforced concrete in the form of a circular caisson, from within a concentric design included from a tower that together was floated out by tugs from Dun Laoghaire Harbour on 29 June 1965 (see footage above).

The lighthouse structure was sunk onto the Kish Bank from where a level platform of stones had previously been prepared by divers and buoyed by the Commissioners of Irish Lights tenders. The operation to raise the tower which was telescoped to its fullest extended height took almost a month to complete on 27 July.

For just over a quarter century, the white tower with its distinctive red band and topped off with a helicopter pad, was manned with a crew of three. The tower is a self-contained unit of 12 floors for keepers' quarters, storage, a generator, radio equipment and of course the lantern.

Crew were transferred in rough weather to the lighthouse by winching in a cradle pod from the lighthouse tender ship. Such practices were discontinued as the lighthouse notably was automated in 1992, ending another chapter in the history of Irish lighthouse-keepers.

Over the years the character of the light has varied. Currently the character is: Fl (2) 20s. 24 hour light which gives a range of 22 nautical miles. The actual height of the light at MHWS is of 29 metres.

Occasionally, the CIL’s aids to navigation tender, ILV Granuaile can be seen departing her homeport of Dun Laoghaire Harbour to carry out maintenance duties on the Kish Lighthouse.

Published in Lighthouses

#[email protected]– An exhibition of the 50th Anniversary of the commissioning of the Kish Bank Lighthouse off Dublin Bay, one of Ireland’s most unusual lighthouses, is currently on at the National Maritime Museum of Ireland (NMMI) in Dun Laoghaire.

Lighthouse Exhibition

The exhibition from Lightships to Lighthouse will also look in to the future is in conjunction with Captain Robert McCabe of the Commissioners of Irish Lights.

Lighthouse Lecture

In addition to celebrate the impressive structure of the lighthouse which was completed five decades ago on the Kish Bank, a two-hour lecture is take place next Thursday, 12 November.

The lecture “Kish Lighthouse –Before the Build” is to be co-presented by Brian Kelly and Eoghan Lehane.

Tickets cost €10.00. For more details including other events and in general about the NMMI, click here.

Published in Lighthouses

The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.


The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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