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. This makes a trip to Ballycotton Lighthouse something very special.
Look forward to an exhilarating journey from the harbour to the island. Walk the original light-keepers path to the island’s summit. You may meet some of the resident goats. See the unspoilt flora and fauna. And, of course, explore the lighthouse and enjoy stunning views from the bright red lantern balcony.
Trips are arranged by Ballycotton Island Lighthouse Tours. All their guides are local and will tell you the factual history of the lighthouse and picturesque Ballycotton as well as sharing some of the more fanciful local myths and legends. Ballycotten Lighthouse is proudly part of Ireland’s Ancient East.
A quick history
In 1847 the paddle steamship Sirius, the first vessel to cross the Atlantic ocean completely under steam, was shipwrecked here in dense fog. Ballycotton Island Lighthouse was built as a result.
The lighthouse was first lit in 1851.
Families of the lightkeepers lived on the island until 1896. The children would row across to Ballycotton for school during the week.
The main light was converted to electric operation on 15 January 1975.
The lighthouse was automated in 1992.
Did you know?
Until recently, power for the lighthouse on Ballycotton was provided by an underwater cable which linked the Island with Ballycotton Pier.
Ballycotton is a good place to spot wildlife. If you’re lucky you might spot peregrine falcons near the rocky inlets at dawn and dusk. Seals and dolphins are regular visitors to the harbour and whales can be seen from the cliffs in December and January. The nearby beach at Ballynamona is on a wildlife sanctuary, with herons, oystercatchers and sandhoppers regularly seen.
It is one of 70 lighthouses operated by the Commissioners of Irish Lights around the coast of Ireland and continues to provide a vital role in maritime safety today.