Ballycotton Lighthouse: 5 Things You Didn’t Know

Ballycotton Lighthouse: 5 Things You Didn’t Know

Perched offshore on beautiful Ballycotton Island along a stunning stretch of Ireland’s Ancient East, idyllic Ballycotton Lighthouse in County Cork is quite the beauty. With a history that boasts tales of shipwrecks and lightkeeping families and the area itself home to incredible wildlife, here are five things you didn’t know about this unusual lighthouse:


1. Paint It Black

One of only two black lighthouses in Ireland (Slyne Head Lighthouse in Galway is the other), Ballycotton Lighthouse was fully painted black in 1902. Prior to this in 1892, a wide black band was painted around what was then a white tower, to distinguish it from the unlit beacon on nearby Capel Island.


2. Measuring Up

The jet black tower of Ballycotton Lighthouse stands at 15 metres tall. The height of the light itself above the water reaches 59 metres. That’s about 13 stacked double-decker buses from the water below to the light’s maximum height!


3. The Sirius Shipwreck

In January 1847, the Sirius, the first ever paddle steamship to cross the Atlantic, was tragically lost after striking rocks in dense fog near Ballycotton Island. It was this tragedy that saw the lighthouse construction already underway on Capel Island abandoned in favour of a lighthouse on Ballycotton Island instead.


4. A Pretty Penny

Once it was decided that a lighthouse should be built on Ballycotton, the land was valued and the owner of the island, Mr M Longfield, received the sum of £36:5s:0d. Twenty others, including the Archbishop of Dublin and the Bishop of Cork received a shilling each, while Queen Victoria received five shillings!


5. A Family Affair

After many decades of lightkeepers living on-site with their families at Ballycotton Lighthouse – a way of life that meant school-going children rowed ashore to their lessons – in September 1972 the lighthouse became a non-dwelling station and saw the last families move to the mainland.


First lit in 1851, you can now visit and explore historic Ballycotton Lighthouse yourself, thanks to Ballycotton Sea Adventure’s fascinating tours. Tours run Monday-Sunday seasonally and depart from the pontoon on Ballycotton Pier.


Find out more about the captivating Great Lighthouses of Ireland. Whether visiting or staying overnight, start planning your trip today!

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