The Great Light

Great Light Belfast
The Great Light on the Maritime Mile, Belfast

The Great Light is located on the Maritime Mile near the Titanic Experience in Belfast.  It is a hyper-radial optic and one of the largest in the world, relocated from Mew Island Lighthouse.

Irish Lights previously modernised Tory Island Lighthouse in County Donegal.  The Tory Island tri-form optic was removed, comprising 18 hyper-radial lens panels, and a new bi-form hyper-radial was created from eight panels.

The hyper-radial lens has the largest focal length,  and Tory Island was the first in the world to install a hyper-radial optic. Barbier and Fenestre of Paris manufactured the original Tory Island optic.

Mew Island Lighthouse was built in 1884 and originally had a first-order tri-form optic.  In the 1920s, its optic was reported to be rotating irregularly, and plans were drawn up to replace it. Mew Island is an important point marking the approach to Belfast.

Great Light

Plans were drawn up in 1924 to use eight of the remaining lens panels from Tory Island to create a new one for Mew Island.  It was decided to use paraffin oil instead of coal gas, which would be less expensive.

Chance Brothers of Smethwick were asked to create a new optic with four panels on two tiers which floated on a bath of mercury to install at Mew Island.

In 2014 the optic was removed from Mew Island Lighthouse and replaced with solar panels.

Old and new optics
Mew Island Lighthouse before and after its optic removal

On 5th November, the optic was removed, and sections of the optic were transferred to the Irish Lights ship Granuaile by helicopter.  The optic was then transported to the Irish Lights store at Dun Laoghaire.

This timelapse shows the construction of the Great Light on the Maritime Mile.

Maritime Belfast worked with the Commissioners of Irish Lights to preserve the light. The optic was restored and relocated into a new purpose-built structure as part of the Maritime Mile.

The optic weighs 10 tonnes and is 7 metres tall.

The Great Light is easily accessed on the Maritime Mile close to the Titanic Experience, and parking is available nearby.