The Great Light

This 1887 optic once shone from the lighthouses on Tory Island, County Donegal and Mew Island, County Down.


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. With its enormous Fresnel Hyper-Radial lens, the construction of the 19th-century icon involved two of the world’s most esteemed lighthouse optic manufacturers – Barbier and Fenestre and the Chance Brothers.

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.

A quick history

  • Made in Paris, the original optic boasted 18 lenses, six in each of its three tiers and covered 60 degrees.
  • The Fresnel lens (invented by Augustin-Jean Fresnel in 1823) magnifies and refracts light into one brilliant, powerful beam.
  • This revolving optic guided mariners through Belfast Lough until as recently as 2014 and today acts as a lifeline to Northern Ireland’s rich maritime and lightkeeping past.

Did you know?

  • The Great Light weighs ten tonnes and stands seven metres high.
  • This striking light produced one of the world’s strongest ever lighthouse beams.
  • The 130-year-old optic is one of the largest of its kind ever built.

More Information


Titanic Quarter, The Maritime Mile, Belfast, United Kingdom


All year round



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