Rathlin East Lighthouse

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Rathlin East Lighthouse

County Antrim

Rathlin Island
East Lighthouse - geograph.org.uk - 443657.jpg
Rathlin East Lighthouse
Grid reference: D16185202
Location: 55°18’6"N, 6°10’17"W
Height: 88 feet
Focal height: 243 feet
Range: 26 nautical miles
Built 1849
Owned by: Commissioners of Irish Lights

The Rathlin East Lighthouse stands on the north-eastern headland of Rathlin Island, off the north coast of County Antrim.


A request from mariners for a light on Rathlin Island was first made in 1827, but due to differences of opinion between the Commissioners of Northern Lights in Edinburgh and the Corporation for Improving the Port of Dublin or Ballast Board, the final approval from Trinity House was not obtained until March 1847 and construction did not start until May 1849. The buildings were designed by the Ballast Board's Inspector of Works and Inspector of Lighthouses, George Halpin, and were constructed by the Board's workmen.

The tower was furnished with two lights, an upper occulting light and lower fixed light, so as not to be confused with other lights when approaching and passing through the North Channel, were established on 1st November 1856. The tower of the upper light is built of stone from the island and is 88 feet overall in height. The light is 243 feet above high water, and originally had an occulting character of 50 seconds bright with 10 seconds dark. The light also showed a red sector over Carrick-a-vaan Rock, off Kenbane Head on the mainland. The lower light consisted of a lantern placed close to the base of the tower, the light was 182 feet above high water and showed a fixed or non flashing light.

On 18th January 1866 a fog signal was established which consisted of an 18 pounder gun and was fired every 20 minutes during fog conditions. Over the years the frequency of the detonation was increased to 15 minutes, then 8 minutes. In 1918 the fog gun was replaced by an explosive fog signal consisting of a double tonite explosion every 5 minutes.

The lower fixed light was discontinued on 1st July 1894 and at the same time the tower light was intensified. In 1912 the main light as given a wholly new optic with a vaporised paraffin burner giving four flashes every 20 seconds. The explosive fog signal was finally discontinued in 1972 for security reasons along with other similar fog signals around the coast.

The colour of the tower seems to have been originally natural stone with a broad red belt under the lantern balcony, then the stone was painted white (still with the red belt). This lasted until 1934 when the red belt was changed to black as it is today. The red sector over the Carrick-a-vaan rock was discontinued in 1938.

The Lighthouse was converted to electric operation in 1981 and has a 920mm catadioptric annular lens and MBI 1kW lamps in a UVLA40 lampchanger.

The lighthouse was automated on 31 March 1995. The station is now monitored from Dún Laoghaire.

In October 2003 an experimental Automatic Identification System (AIS) was established at Rathlin East Lighthouse.

See also

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Rathlin East Lighthouse)


Lighthouses of the Commissioners of Irish Lights

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