Arranmore Lighthouse

Arranmore Lighthouse is located on the island of Arranmore, north of Rathlin O’Birne. Also known as Árainn Mhór, it is the largest inhabited island in County Donegal.

The first Arranmore Lighthouse, designed by Thomas Rogers, was established in 1798. In 1810, the Ballast Board took control of the lighthouse, and a number of lighting improvements followed. It continued to operate until August 1832, when Tory Island Lighthouse began operation.

Following its decommissioning, protests to re-establish the lighthouse continued. Finally, in 1859, the Ballast Board agreed, and George Halpin Junior designed a new tower and dwellings.

Daniel Crowe and Sons built the second lighthouse, and much of the original stonework was re-used. Messrs Edmundsons of Dublin constructed the new cast iron lantern and balcony.

The 76-foot-high lighthouse used a second-order dioptric optic removed from Rathlin O’Birne Lighthouse in 1864. The new light was exhibited on 1 February 1865, displaying a white flash every minute and a red sector light.


Two semi-detached dwellings were built for the two keepers and their families.

However, it was noted that both Arranmore and Skerryvore Lighthouse, 100 miles to the north, had similar characters. As this could cause confusion, a new first-order optic was installed in April 1877, displaying a new character of white/red every 20 seconds.

In 1877, a fixed red auxiliary light was established to mark the Stags Rocks lying northeast of the lighthouse. This was later changed in 1904 to a fixed white light, which was later changed in 1932 to a white light flashing every 3 seconds. The auxiliary light changed from flashing white to red in 1982.

Mains electricity arrived on Arranmore in the late 1960s, and the lighthouse was converted to mains electricity in 1970. Following electrification, the lighthouse was automated in 1976. The keepers left the lighthouse on 1st August 1976.

Access to the lighthouse was originally by boat, and it involved a steep climb of 233 feet to the top. Later, the Inspecting Committee was transported to the lighthouse from the village by tractor and trailer. This made the long climb and subsequent walk much more comfortable. Access was later improved further by helicopter reliefs.

The lighthouse steps can be found a short distance from the lighthouse.

Aranmore Island is accessible by ferry from Burtonport.

Established: 1798 (1), 1865 (2)
Discontinued: 1832 (first tower)
Engineer: Thomas Rogers (1), George Halpin Jr (2)
Tower Height: 23 metres
Light Character: Fl (2) W 20 s, Aux Fl R 3 over Stag Rocks
Light Range: 27 miles
Elevation: 71 metres
Automated: 1976