Ardglass Pier Lighthouse is at the end of the Inner Pier within Ardglass harbour. There have been several lighthouses at Ardglass over the years.
The name Ardglass comes from the Irish Gaelic “Ard Ghlais”, meaning green high, and St Patrick founded a monastery here.
From the 15th century, Ardglass grew into a busy fishing port and, at one time, offered a ferry service to Peel on the Isle of Man. But, there do not appear to have been any harbour buildings until after 1812.
It has been suggested that Jordan’s Castle may have shone the first light over the harbour.
In 1813 a new harbour and lighthouse were established by William Ogilvie, with the assistance of John Rennie as the designer. The lighthouse was first exhibited on the south pier on 17th March 1817.
However, the pier and lighthouse were often wave-washed during storms. So improvements were made to the harbour between the 1820s and 1830s. Plans were drawn up to extend the pier with a new lighthouse at the end to replace the 1817 lighthouse. As the pier was extended, a temporary moveable light transferred along the end.
However, in November 1838, a storm lashed the harbour, destroying the lighthouse and its temporary light and damaging the pier.
Following the demise of the lighthouse, there was much discussion about the location of a replacement lighthouse. Captain Denham surveyed the harbour and noted that during this time, a light was exhibited at the end of a building to provide guidance to vessels.
Finally, a new pier was built in 1866 to replace the pier destroyed in 1838. However, it took a further 21 years before the current lighthouse was built on the north pier. During that time, the temporary light, possibly recycled from one of the damaged lights, continued to be displayed.
The present Ardglass Pier Lighthouse was built between 1885 – 1886, becoming operational in 1887. The cast iron tower is 29 feet high and is painted white.
From the car park at Ardglass Marina, the harbour is a short walk along the North Pier.