Davaar Lighthouse is located at the entrance to Campbeltown.
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The Kintyre peninsula, 40 miles long and 8 miles wide, looks out along its western side towards the Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland. Its name is derived from the Gaelic “ceann – tire”, meaning land’s end. About a quarter of the way up the eastern side, Davaar island is located at the entrance to Campbeltown Loch. The loch leads to the popular sailing and fishing centre of Campbeltown, and boats cross to Ireland from the sheltered harbour in the summer.
At low tide, Davaar is connected to the mainland by the Dhorlin, a shingle bank on the southern Loch entrance. At high tide, the island is completely cut off. The island also marks the southern entrance of Kilbrannan Sound, the stretch of water separating Kintyre and the Island of Arran.
Davaar was known as the island of Sanct Barre (1449-1508). There are variations of the origination of the name; the modern form is believed to come from an older version, Do Bharre—thy St Barre. Its name also possibly originates from Da-Bharr, meaning double-pointed island.
The lighthouse, listed as a building of Architectural and Historic Interest, is situated on the island’s northern tip, set in 1⅓ acres of land. It was established in 1854 and designed by Northern Lighthouse Board engineers, David and Thomas Stevenson. The building contractor was John Barr and Co, the lantern was manufactured by James Milne and Son, and the leadwork by John Marshall. The cost of construction was estimated at around £4,000.
Today the light’s character is 2 white flashes every 10 seconds, producing a 300,000 candle-power light, visible up to 23 miles. The fog signal was an electric siren with flap valve shutters producing two blasts every 20 seconds, but this has now been discontinued.
Two main buildings behind the lighthouse are the original single storey keepers’ dwelling and a more recent cottage. The views reach out to Kilbrannan Sound and Arran.
The lighthouse is a 66ft high white tower. Initially, a mercury vapour lamp with catoptric mirrors was driven by clockwork machinery. The revolving light produced one flash every 30 seconds, visible from 17 miles. Sealed beam units were later installed.
The cottages share a walled enclosure with the neighbouring caretaker. Beyond the wall, the cliffs fall away steeply, and children should be supervised at all times. The cottages are connected to the mainland by the Dhorlin, accessible for around 3 hours on either side of low tide. On arrival and departure, guests are ferried by Land Rover across the causeway, leaving their cars at the quayside on the mainland.
To walk from the lighthouse over the causeway to the mainland takes about 30 minutes.