14 Great Lighthouses of Ireland
For hundreds of years Irish lighthouses have helped seafarers find their way along the Irish coastline, which boasts unique history and stunning scenery.
Enjoy the YouTube video below by the Irish Landmark Trust, which shines a light along Ireland’s stunning coastline and showcases the beautiful lighthouses that surround it. Gain an insight into the importance of Ireland’s lighthouses and the organizations responsible for maintaining them.
Well done to Great Lighthouses of Ireland and Commissioners of Irish Lights for creating such a wonderful video together.
© Irish Landmark Trust
Fanad Lighthouse, County Donegal. (Visit and Accommodation)
Standing between idyllic Lough Swilly and Mulroy Bay, Fanad Lighthouse has been voted one of the most beautiful lighthouses in the world. With its location on the eastern shore of the windswept Fanad Peninsula in County Donegal, it’s little wonder that this lighthouse is a Wild Atlantic Way highlight. Accommodation at Fanad Lighthouse is available in three charming former lighthouse keeper’s homes, all with stunning sea views. Restored in 2015, the houses are full of traditional character, but still offer every comfort for the ideal getaway.
St. John’s Point Lighthouse, County Donegal (Accommodation).
Kilometers from anywhere, a stay at St. John’s Point Lighthouse in County Donegal offers a one-of-a-kind getaway. Enjoy a stay in one of the two characterful lightkeepers’ cottages (Clipper and Schooner) managed by Irish Landmark Trust and experience the delights of wild and wonderful Donegal.
Clare Island Lighthouse, Co. Mayo (Accommodation)
Leave your car behind at Roonagh Pier on the Mayo mainland and journey across the water for a serene experience at Clare Island Lighthouse, which has been lovingly restored and transformed into a luxury B&B guesthouse. It is the perfect place to relax and unwind. Discover the wealth of activity the island has to offer – walking, cycling, fishing, music and crafts, to name just a few.
Loop Head Lighthouse, County Clare (Visit and accommodation).
Loop Head Lighthouse is perched right at the end of Loop Head Peninsula in stunning West Clare. Uncover the fascinating history of Loop Head lighthouse with interactive exhibits in the Lightkeeper’s Cottage, or take a guided tour up the lighthouse tower and onto the balcony. Weather permitting, you’ll enjoy fantastic views south as far as the Blasket Islands and north to the Twelve Pins in Connemara, along the Wild Atlantic Way.
Valentia Island Lighthouse, County Kerry (Visit only).
Built on the site of a 17th century fort, Valentia Island Lighthouse at Cromwell Point in County Kerry has stood against sea and invader for hundreds of years. Now, this gleaming white lighthouse on beautiful Valentia Island looks out across some of the most spectacular sights along the Wild Atlantic Way.
Galley Head Lighthouse, County Cork (Accommodation)
The gleaming white Galley Head lighthouse sits at the southernmost point of a picturesque headland known as Dundeady Island in County Cork, close to the charming market town of Clonakilty – home of the famous black pudding! Irish Landmark Trust has restored two lightkeepers’ houses, which offer self-catering accommodation with a difference. It’s the perfect base to pursue a wide range of outdoor activities from dolphin and whale watching, surfing at Inchydoney Blue Flag Beach to a historical walking tour of Clonakilty.
Ballycotton Lighthouse, Co. Cork (Visit only)
Built in the late 1840s, Ballycotton Lighthouse sits atop the unspoilt Ballycotton Island, across the bay from the foodie haven of East Cork. A black lighthouse (one of only two in Ireland) it is only accessible by boat from the harbour to the island with Ballycotton Sea Adventures. Walk the original light-keepers path to the island’s summit and soak up the beautiful, unspoilt flora and fauna. And, of course, hear the history and fanciful local myths and legends from your local guide, while exploring the lighthouse and enjoying stunning views from the bright red lantern balcony.
Fastnet Lighthouse, Co. Cork (Fastnet Rock Tour / no visit to the lighthouse)
Standing isolated in the invigorating Atlantic Ocean, some 3.5 nautical miles southwest of picturesque Cape Clear Island, you’ll find a very recognizable granite tower. Perched along on the Wild Atlantic Way’s stunning West Cork stretch, the unmistakable Fastnet Rock Lighthouse or ‘Carraig Aonair’ (meaning “lonely rock”), has been a guiding light since the 19th century.
Operated by Cape Clear Ferries, exciting boat tours around this unforgettable lighthouse can be taken from the idyllic local fishing villages of Baltimore and Schull. Sentimentally known as ‘Ireland’s Teardrop’, it was, for many thousands of emigrants, the last Irish structure seen as their ship carried them over the waves and away to new lives in America.
Hook Head Lighthouse, Co. Wexford (Visit only)
Built 800 years ago, Hook lighthouse in County Wexford, in Ireland’s Ancient East, continues to serve its original function and now boasts the accolade of the world’s oldest operational lighthouse. Step back in time with a guided tour of this astonishing still-intact medieval lighthouse. Discover Hook’s fascinating history, and there’s plenty of it given that this site’s been home to a beacon since the 5th century. Hear compelling stories from life on the coastal edge and find out more about the top-class technology at work keeping people safe at sea today.
Wicklow Head Lighthouse, Co. Wicklow (Accommodation)
Wicklow Head Lighthouse, an octagonal stone tower, has overlooked Wicklow’s beautiful coastline since 1781. It has has been restored and transformed by Irish Landmark Trust and now houses truly unique self-catering accommodation. With stunning views of the Irish Sea on three sides – and 109 steps up to the kitchen – why not stay in this lighthouse, which will quite literally take your breath away?
St. John’s Point Lighthouse, County Down (Accommodation)
You can’t miss St John’s Point Lighthouse on the beautiful coast of County Down. Its strikingly tall tower is marked with vibrant bands of yellow and black, which distinguish it from other lighthouses and are known as its daymark.
Live the life of a lightkeeper in this remote and beautiful spot. Enjoy very comfortable and characterful self-catering accommodation in either of the two lightkeepers’ cottages, Ketch and Sloop, managed by Irish Landmark Trust. St John’s Point is a great base for walking and exploring Strangford Lough, an area of outstanding natural beauty.
The Great Light, Belfast City, County Antrim (Visit Only)
A city renowned for its distinguished maritime heritage and the iconic shipyards that brought Titanic to the world, Belfast also showcases the utterly exceptional Great Light. Sitting by the water on the scenic Titanic Walkway in the heart of the Titanic Quarter, a stroll to this juggernaut optic never fails to impress. Nestled on the Maritime Mile, which connects the Titanic Slipways to HMS Caroline and Thompson Dock, the walk to the Great Light alone will leave you exhilarated and perfectly placed for a visit to Titanic Belfast.
Blackhead Lighthouse, County Antrim (Accommodation)
Blackhead Lighthouse in County Antrim, overlooks the sea from the edge of a majestic cliff on beautiful Belfast Lough, only half an hour from Belfast and on the Causeway Coastal Route. Irish Landmark Trust manage three restored lightkeepers’ houses right beside the lighthouse (sleeping five and seven guests), including one cottage evocatively named Blackhead Cutter (which sleeps four). Enjoy a stay in a house full of character and comfort, with antique furniture and seafaring curios true to its maritime past. From this truly unique setting, watch glorious sunsets and wake up to gorgeous sunrises.
Rathlin West Light, County Antrim (Visit Only)
Take a boat trip to Rathlin West Light on Northern Ireland’s picturesque Rathlin Island. The seafaring adventure begins as soon as you leave the shores of Ballycastle in County Antrim by ferry. Standing at the harbour of the rugged Rathlin Island, the first thing you will notice are the sounds of the wildlife. The island is not only home to this unique lighthouse but a large seabird colony, which return to breed here every year. The sights and sounds of so many seabirds, including guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes, fulmars and puffins, at such close quarters is a life experience you’ll never forget.
Shining a light on the Emerald Isle
While we may not be able to travel just now, hopefully you will find some inspiration on our website for your future vacation plans to Ireland.
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Note: Featured image at the top of the blog is of the sunset at Fanad Lighthouse, County Donegal. Photographer: Fearghus Foyle. ©Failte Ireland
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