Plans to dim Fastnet Lighthouse cause upset in west Cork

Battery-powered LED beam due to replace three diesel generators

Plans to dim the beam of Fastnet Lighthouse – known as Ireland's teardrop by departing emigrants, and a welcome sight for arriving sailors – have upset some tourism interests in west Cork.

The beam shines 27 nautical miles into the Atlantic. The Commissioners of Irish Lights, which maintains navigational marks around the island, plans to install an Led-based light on the 28m tower from this summer. Powered by battery rather than the current three diesel generators, it will stretch only 18 nautical miles.

A west Cork community organisation involved in tourism said several such groups in the area were very upset by the plan, and noted that Fastnet is a protected structure.

The Independent Cork South-West TD Michael Collins, who lives near Schull, called on the lighthouse authority to start "immediate consultations" with the local community. He said tourism interests were very concerned about the loss of illumination at night, particularly on the landward side.


"Communities in Goleen, Schull, Baltimore and the islands of Roaringwater Bay are also worried about the visual impact of a shorter and narrower beam, given that this light is so important for safety at sea," said Mr Collins, who added: "Just like president Mary Robinson had a light in her window for emigrants, so this Fastnet light represents something for Irish people everywhere."

Irish Lights’ director of operations and navigational services, Capt Robert McCabe, said the new light would be more fuel efficient and, although less powerful, comply with the maximum range required for lights on British and Irish coasts.

The Irish South & West Fish Producers' Organisation has welcomed the upgrade.

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins is the former western and marine correspondent of The Irish Times