Loop Head Lighthouse

Loop Head Lighthouse

Loop Head Lighthouse is located on the Loop Head Peninsula, marking the entrance to the northern shore of the Shannon Estuary. The lighthouse is situated near the village of Kilbaha.

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The current lighthouse was constructed in 1854, though there has been a light on the site since the early 17th century.

The first lighthouse was established around 1670 and had a cottage attached for the keeper and his family. The light held a beacon fire on the roof of the tower. Part of this old structure remains near the current building.

The early lighthouse needed to be managed better and was poorly maintained, and by the end of the 17th century had fallen into disrepair. It was unused for almost twenty years. Finally, it was re-established in 1720 following repeated requests by the local Limerick merchants.

Lighthouse at Loop Head

In 1802, Thomas Rogers designed a replacement tower with four rooms and a lantern containing 12 oil lamps with reflectors. By 1811, adjoining cottages provided accommodation for the lighthouse keeper.

Limerick merchants demanded improvements to the lighthouse as shipping increased in the Shannon. In 1844 George Halpin designed a new tower, which came into operation on 1st May 1854, displaying a fixed light. The previous 1802 tower lantern was removed to avoid obscuring the new light. A new intermittent light was established in 1869, producing 20 seconds of light followed by four seconds of darkness. A clockwork revolving screen produced the new character around the light.

An explosive fog signal was in operation between 1898 and 1972.

Loop head at sunset

Improvements in 1912 saw a revolving catadioptric lens installed and the oil lamps replaced by an incandescent paraffin vapour burner.  The character was altered to four white flashes every twenty seconds.

A radio beacon was established at Loop Head Lighthouse in 1955, signalling the Morse code L P every two minutes during poor visibility. From 1964, this was used continually in all weathers and was paired with the radio beacon at Slyne Head (60 miles to the north)  in 1977. The service was discontinued in 1999.

In 1971, Loop Head Lighthouse was converted to electric operation. A watch room was built into the roof of the keeper’s cottage in the 1970s, and in 1991 the lighthouse was automated.

Loop Head peninsula

The Eire 45 sign is located at the peninsula’s tip, one of a number of aerial navigation aids across the country.

Loop Head Lighthouse has a visitor centre, and it is possible to stay in the cottages.


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Established: c1670 (1), 1802 (2), 1854 (current)
Tower Height: 23 metres
Light Character: Fl (4) W 20 s
Light Range: 23 miles
Elevation: 84 metres
Automated: 1991

More Ireland: South West Coast Listings