Roches Point Lighthouse

Roches Point
Photo: Patrick Tubby

Roches Point Lighthouse is located at the entrance to Cork Harbour.

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Applications were made to build a lighthouse at the entrance to Cork Harbour in the early nineteenth century.  At the time, there were no lights marking the harbour entrance. However, an old watch tower existed at Roches Point.  As it was in good condition, it was suggested that this tower could be converted for use as a lighthouse. 

George Halpin Senior found the tower to be strong enough to house a light and recommended a coloured sector to seaward to distinguish it from the light at Old Head of Kinsale.

Cork Harbour Lighthouse

However, there followed several years of delay in obtaining the land and tower.  The owner, Edward Roche of Trabolgan, had been detained in Italy as a prisoner of war.  Roche had been using the tower as a “banqueting and pleasure house”.  At the end of the eighteenth century, the tower was rented to the Government for use as a watch tower.  Furthermore, none of Roche’s family had the authority to negotiate a sale in his absence.  It was not until 1816, two years after approval had been granted, that work could commence.

By this time, it had been decided to build a separate tower on the site. George Halpin was commissioned to design the 36 foot high tower with an internal diameter of 6 feet. The lighthouse was first lit on June 4, 1817, displaying a red sector to seaward. 

As shipping increased within Cork Harbour, a more significant lighthouse was needed. In 1835, the current 49-foot-high tower replaced the older one. 

Roches Point

Following the establishment of the new lighthouse, the original tower was decommissioned. The tower and lantern were dismantled and reused at Duncannon North Lighthouse, which was established in 1838 in the Waterford estuary. 

In 1864, a fixed light was placed in front of the lighthouse to mark the Daunt Rock.  A revolving red light replaced this the following year.  This red sector was discontinued in August 1932 and replaced by a red sector in the main light.

A diaphone fog signal replaced the siren in 1949.  The fog signal was discontinued in January 2011.

Close up of lantern

The character was changed to a white or red flash every three seconds on 15th August 1993.  On 1st April 1995, the lighthouse was converted to automatic operation.

Roches Point Lighthouse is located south of White Bay Beach.  There is a car park at Roches Point, and from here, you can walk to the lighthouse perimeter, though there is no access to the lighthouse and grounds. 

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Established: 1817 (1), 1835 (current)
Engineer: George Halpin
Tower Height: 15 metres
Light Character: Fl W R 3 s
Light Range: White 18 miles, Red 14 miles
Elevation: 30 metres
Automated: 1995