Monday, July 13, 2020

Old Market House Bell, Belfast

Above is a photograph of the "Old Market House Bell," taken from an online brochure of the Belfast Harbour Commissioners, detailing but a few of the artistic treasures to be found within the halls of their hallowed building on Corporation Square, Belfast. The caption reads, "Now resting on the first floor of the Harbour Office, having been presented to the Harbour Commissioners by the Marquis of Donegall in 1857, the Old Market House Bell was originally located in what was Market House in Lower High Street. The bell tolled to tell the public of any significant events - one of the most notable of which was the hanging in nearby Corn Market of Henry Joy McCracken, a founding member of the Society of United Irishmen."
The only relic remaining of the old Market House, the bell is constructed of "bell metal" (I kid you not) "with a rough iron clapper capable, however, of bringing out a fine ringing tone. On an ornamental band is the date 1761 in raised figures. The extreme width and height are the same, viz., twenty-two inches." (Source: The Town Book of the Corporation of Belfast 1613 - 1816 by Robert Magill.)
The Market House was built in 1639 on the corner of High Street and Cornmarket where, today, Dunnes Stores enjoys a huge premium site. For well over 100 years, it was the hub of the city.

Original painting by Thomas Wakeman in 1780 currently in the Belfast Art Gallery

It is said that a peal of bells sounded from the Market House, which also doubled, or trebled, as a courtroom and a town hall. Public hangings often occurred from the beam holding the clock and skeletons were often to be seen hanging there to act as a deterrent to others. The tower often sported the heads of various miscreants, the last three being insurgents in the 1798 Rebellion.

The bells were also rung to signify the beginning and end of market day and for the funerals of members of the town's hierarchy. Incidentally, the dial of the clock fell in 1739, breaking a man's thigh. I bet his wife was suspicious when he arrived home.
The house, like much of Belfast at the time, was owned by the Donegall family and it appears that the 2nd Marquis got into a bit of financial difficulty and leased the building to a local draper, Adam McClean, who promptly pulled the building down and built two new houses on the site, but not before the bell above had been transferred to the Marquis' stately pile at Ormeau.
After the 2nd Marquis died, the bell was inherited by the 3rd Marquis who, in 1857, donated it to the Harbour Commissioners, for whom the Chairman of the Commissioners, John Clarke, replied - 

It appears that the Commissioners did indeed take great care of the bell. In 1894, a member of the Harbour Commissioners, William Gaffikin, made a reference to "the old bell" and the Secretary of the Board made the following report, detailing the "great care" they had taken of the priceless artefact. -

Holywood Light

It appears that the bell had led a charmed life. The Holywood Light had been swept away by the Paddle Steamer Earl of Ulster in 1889 and the No.3 Lighthouse, where the bell was located at the time of Mr. Gaffikin's intervention was similarly mowed down in January 1897. Fortunately, the Board acted promptly on its own resolution to have the bell relocated in the Harbour Commissioner's Building where it remains to this day.

Friday, July 10, 2020

The Two Belfast Pile Lights, one substantial structure and a Stone Beacon (1851-1891) (lost lighthouses)

Researching the many lost lighthouses of Belfast Harbour is completely head-wrecking. Any corrections or additional information, please leave in the comments or mail me at!
So far, we have dealt with the outermost of the Belfast lights, Mitchell's Holywood Bank or Belfast Lough light. Basically, in the early 1800s, Belfast harbour was a big muddy mess. The Lagan emerged from the city, not into the sea, but into a wide expanse of mud, winding its way (sometimes at a depth of only three feet) to the much deeper Pool of Garmoyle, which sounds like something from Lord of the Rings. Steamers, on their 22 hour journeys from Liverpool or Glasgow were often obliged to anchor at Garmoyle and wait another six hours or more for the tide, ferrying the more impatient passengers into the city by rowing boat.

Somewhat indistinct map of Belfast port 1820. The quays began at High Street and the river wound its way around the mud flats to the Pool of Garmoyle and the sea. Basically the two big bends in the river were to be flattened and dredged, giving a much straighter deeper and wider entrance to the town from the sea.

After a few false starts due to harbour politics and financial constraints, work finally got underway in the 1840s and by 1851 the first bend had been obliterated. The mud dredged up for the new channel was piled up to the south to create what eventually became Queen's Island, Belfast's first pleasure park.
Around 1851, the newly formed Harbour Commissioners were able to announce the arrival of three new lights between the Pool of Garmoyle and the City of Belfast:

1) a substantial stone structure, situated at the lower end of East Twin Island, showing a green light.
2) on the margin of the old Seal Channel (see map above) showing a red light, and
3) at the Pool of Garmoyle, "below the stone beacon" showing a green light.

Basically, all lights on the northern side of the channel were to show red lights and green lights were to be displayed on the south side of the channel.
Both pile lights were wave-washed (ie. built in water) and all three provided accommodation for a keeper and his wife, to minimise the dangers of travelling to and from the light in dangerous weather conditions.
Lighthouses 2) and 3) were pile lights on the borders of the mud banks and were, according to the sailing directions of 1877, built of timber, supported on strong piles, braced with wrought iron tie-rods. It is said that the cost of the three lights was approximately £741.
Regarding the Seal Channel lighthouse, George Smith, the Commissioner's engineer, stated, in January 1851, that, prior to the erection of the pile light, the entrance to the Seal Channel had previously marked by a light shone from a guard vessel operated by the Customs but that, latterly, a sloop had been utilised to do the job. Technically, these two vessels are also lost light-vessels!
The Pool of Garmoyle Light 3) is described as being below the stone beacon, a drawing of which appears in the Harbour Lights Inspection report of 1864:  

To return to Lighthouse 1), the 'substantial stone structure, situated at the lower end of East Twin Island, showing a green light,' East Twin Island appears to have been a very narrow strip of land again formed by dredging and located off the end of Queen's Island. 

This Griffiths Valuation map of the 1850s, shows a lighthouse at both ends, which both appear to be built on land, rather than water. The course of the Old Channel is clearly seen meandering to the south of this newly-formed island. The tip of Queens Island can clearly be seen in the bottom left of the map. The red line actually represents county boundaries, indicating that the two East Twin lights were in county Down, rather than Antrim.

A very helpful askaboutireland map, showing a present-day map superimposed on the 1850s map. As can be seen, the two lights at the ends of the old East Twin were both located in today's Channel!

More questions than answers, of course, the main one being the location of Lighthouse 1). Was it in the sea or on land? George Smith in 1851 is no more helpful - 

If he'd have said south or north East Twin, instead of 'lower end of the east bank', he might have saved me a great deal of trouble. Poor George. How could he know that 170 years later, I'd be cursing him from a height?
Anyhow, I believe that Lighthouse 1) was probably the Inner Light situated at the very tip of East Twin Island. I have dealt with this light in a separate post, so we'll simply lay it aside.
To recap then, we have a pile light at the Pool of Garmoyle, near the Stone Beacon; we have a pile light guarding the Seal Channel; and we have a stone light in the water or on land at the lower end of East Twin.
The 1864 harbour lights report was very favourable in general to the hard work of the Harbour Commissioners. They had but two quibbles. Firstly, the brilliance of the lights was questioned and suggestions were made for increasing their luminosity. Also, and I need to quote this, "the very low scale of wages granted to the light-keepers is not sufficient to insure (sic) an anxious, zealous and careful discharge of the important duties entrusted to them."
I hope that by 1868, Patrick M'Aravey, keeper of the Garmoyle pile light, had got a rise in wages, having to undergo an ordeal as that reported by the Irish Examiner on Tuesday June 30th of that year:

Slowly before its eventual demise, No. 2 Lighthouse, the Seal Channel pile light, was also ran into, again without loss of life.

In 1889 - 91, further improvements were made to the harbour, which involved the pulling down of the 1851 pile lights to be replaced by other lights, which were either collided with or pulled down. More lost lights. And barely a photo between them.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020


From the Connaught Tribune February 18th 1956:

Anybody else notice the correlation between the demise of Bovril and the demise of the profession of lightkeeper?
Anyone else notice there's no lighthouse like that on the west coast of Ireland? Must be the west coast of somewhere else...

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Holywood Bank aka Belfast Lough (Lost lighthouse)

It seems to me odd that after 300+ posts, this is my first post about a Belfast lighthouse. One of Ireland's major ports, at one time it seemed it had so many lighthouses that boats entering the harbour found it hard avoiding them. (I'm exaggerating of course but at least three met their ends at the hands of moving objects!) The history of these lights is something I have been trying to unravel and a tortuous exercise it is too as there is a lot of contradictory evidence around. But for this post I will confine myself to the outermost of the Belfast lights. 
Nowadays, there are no lighthouses at Belfast, as such. Plenty of lights and buoys and beacons but the lighthouses are all gone, unless you count the Great Optic on the Maritime Mile in the Titanic Quarter, which I do and which I have yet to visit.
The above lighthouse is the Holywood Bank Lighthouse (aka Belfast Lough lighthouse) (b.1844 d.1889) At least, I think it is. Every copy of this photo describes it as the Holywood Bank lighthouse built by Alexander Mitchell in 1844. But more of that later.
We have, of course, come across Mitchell before, the blind, Belfast engineer (born in South William Street in Dublin but the family moved to Belfast when young. I'm not trying to claim him for Dublin!!) Inspired by how easily a corkscrew went into a cork but could not be pulled out straight, he transferred the principal to the problem of building edifices on mud. The story goes that, in the 1830s, with his 19 year old son, John, he rowed out into Belfast Lough with a long pole attached to a metal screw. This he screwed into the mud, leaving the top of the pole exposed. He came back the following day to find the pole still in situ and the screwpile lighthouse was born.

Alexander Mitchell portrait (Dundalk pile light can be seen through the window behind)

Mitchell patented his invention. His first light was built on Maplin Sands off the Thames. The second was at the mouth of the Wyre off Fleetwood in Lancashire. (Fleetwood was finished before Maplin and was the first Mitchell lighthouse to be lit) Then he tried to build a light on the Kish sandbank off Dublin but that was one of his rare failures, not through any fault of the system but because a violent storm destroyed the structure before the screws were properly in place. His fourth lighthouse was the Holywood Bank lighthouse on the approaches to his beloved Belfast.

Mitchell's plan for the Belfast Lough light

'Mud, mud, glorious mud' goes the old song and there was certainly nothing quite like it for infuriating Belfast port engineers. The harbour was awash with it and nowhere more so than on the southern approaches to the harbour off the small town off Holywood, from where a large bank of mud stretches out from the shore and has been responsible for many wrecks. To warn ships and boats to keep to the north of this bank, Mitchell erected his lighthouse. It cost a mere £1,300, due mainly to Mitchell being very generous on his price, due to his love for his adopted city. It seems to have been well-received, particularly by one of the pilots, testifying in one of those never-ending tidal reports in 1846: - 

(and so he goes on. Harbour pilots were obviously the taxi-drivers of yesteryear, with their definite opinions on every subject!)
The Holywood Bank Lighthouse was very similar in design to the Fleetwood light, except that it had a slightly smaller lantern and a longer living quarters. The latter was because it doubled up as a pilot station, housing the pilots who would guide ships into the harbour. It stood in eight feet of water at a height of 29 feet above high water. It originally shone a static red light, visible for five miles though it later successfully operated as a guinea-pig for Lord Kelvin / Charles Babbage's intermittent white light (visible for 12 miles) which, from November, shone the letter U (dot, dot, dash) in the Morse alphabet, an innovation which was "exceedingly well-liked by the pilots and other practical men who have had experience of it" in the unbiased opinion of Lord Kelvin. 
In 1850, the wooden piles were found to be in a parlous state and were strengthened with iron.
Below is a eulogy from the Belfast Newsletter from 8th October 1844. The first half gives a resume of Alexander Mitchell's past achievements. This is the second half.

Oil on canvas painting 'The Holywood Lighthouse' by an unknown author of 'The Irish School,' currently displayed in the Belfast Harbour Commissioners Office. ArtUK lists the date of the painting as 1844. The Belfast Harbour Commissioners say 1860. I'd veer towards the latter.
There are a couple of things puzzle me about this picture. Firstly, the waves, the clouds and the boats all seem to be drawn meticulously and expertly, yet the subject of the picture, the lighthouse, seems to have been drawn by the artist's eight-year-old son. Secondly, what is that structure to the right of the lighthouse? Is it a bell-tower attached to the lighthouse or another free-standing structure? As far as I know, the next lighthouse, more than a mile away only went up in 1851, which would rule out the 1844 date, though the structure above doesn't seem a mile away. Thirdly, the lighthouse seems pretty useless as the boats are swarming all around it, disregarding the dangers it is supposed to be highlighting (though, of course, that may have been artistic licence - I doubt the artist sat in a boat drawing away in that choppy sea!) What is more noticeable is the fatness of the lighthouse (with extra living quarters) which makes me wonder if the extremely slender lighthouse in the picture at the top of the page is really the Holywood Bank Lighthouse and could maybe another of the pile lights that were built subsequently.

This is a bell that once was used as a fog-bell on the Holywood Bank lighthouse, now hanging in the Belfast Harbour Commissioners Office. However, that is just a tiny part of the bell's history and it deserves a post of its own.

In keeping with the questions raised over the Holywood Bank lighthouse, it's demise is also subject to debate. The Belfast Harbour Commissioners, in the commentary to the painting above says "...1860, 31 years before the lighthouse was demolished after it became obsolete when the Victoria Channel was extended through the Holywood Bank." This gives us a demolition date of 1891 and it was done voluntarily.
However, most other sources say that the lighthouse was destroyed by the Earl of Ulster on 12th March 1889. (When I first read that statement, the name of the ship was unitalicised and I had visions of some mad, rampaging member of the aristocracy taking an axe to it) The Earl of Ulster was a paddle-steamer that operated from Fleetwood to Belfast. A few years previous to this, she had a collision with a schooner off the Isle of Man, which emboldened her to do the Harbour Commissioners' work for them in 1889. She was owned by the London and North Western Railway company, built in 1874, broken up for scrap in 1895.
Strangely, I cannot find any newspaper reports of the collision, which there should have been, nor what became to the lighthouse keeper and his family and any pilots there at the time. (There are plenty of other graphic and sensational descriptions of the destruction by boats of other lighthouses in the harbour both before and after.) It falls to the London Gazette to report the matter in the form of a harbour lights notice, two weeks later: -

It should be noted that the Harbour Board had intended to move / demolish the lighthouse anyway to make way for the straightening of the channel and pier extensions that were underway at the time. The absence of newspaper reports of the collision may be construed by people of nasty, suspicious minds that the accident was a mere insurance scam but I couldn't possibly ascribe to that. More likely is that I am putting the wrong words into the search engine! 
Another 'Notice to Mariners' in July 1891, on the completion of the harbour works, notes that "the temporary lighting arrangements which mark the site of the Holywood Lighthouse ... will be removed."
Thus, the story of the historic Holywood Bank Lighthouse comes to a conclusion. Any errors noticed or corrections needing to be made or additional information would be gratefully received at

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

The six Ardglass lighthouses - No.6

And so we come to the final chapter in the Ardglass lighthouse saga - the modern lighthouse. It was constructed in 1885 and 1886 and finally exhibited on the inner North pier in 1887, nearly fifty years after the last lighthouse proper was destroyed off the end of the south pier. 
A terrible tragedy happened during the construction of the North pier and lighthouse when four young man rowed out to a dredger to affix a light to it and were drowned when the hurricane they were travelling in flipped over.

Belfast Newsletter April 26th 1887

It is a cylindrical cast iron tower on a concrete base, painted white with a maroon door. The tower stands 29 feet tall and, due to the numerous obstacles around it, flashes white, red and green, two seconds off, two seconds on.

Fish curing at Ardglass early 1900s

The lighthouse in 2009 (above) and 2012 (below) I have not visited for eleven years and need to visit again this summer, if possible. I visited on a sleepy midday when boats were probably out and everything was calm.

Links to previous posts in the Ardglass saga - Lighthouse No.1, Lighthouse No.2, Lighthouse Nos. 3 and 4, Lighthouse No.5 

The six Ardglass lighthouses - No. 5

The sands of time tend to run slow, yet they would be given a good run for their money by lighthouse construction in nineteenth century Ireland. The Calf Rock lighthouse blew down in 1881, signalling that the first Fastnet lighthouse - of identical construction - should be replaced immediately. It took 23 years. Skerries harbour in county Dublin petitioned for a pier extension and new light for decades. It also took decades (and many shipwrecks) for many older lighthouses - found almost immediately to have been built too high on headlands to be rendered useless in cloudy weather - to be replaced with lower lights. Ardglass was doubtless delighted to find out it was no exception.
Following the demise of the new state of the art lighthouse (and temporary light) in 1838 - Lighthouse 3 and 4 - it was decided to immediately set up commissions of enquiry to decide what should be done about the collapse of the south pier wall. Ardglass harbour, though a good large harbour often touted as being a potential harbour of refuge between Dublin and Belfast, was beset by dangerous rocks and shoals and now had hundreds of tonnes of stone and rubble, not to mention a shattered lighthouse blocking 300 feet of the harbour entrance.
A Captain Denham gave a statement to yet another Harbour of Refuge report in 1851, saying "The debris in question has presented ... an unbeaconed ledge of rocks ... without any guide but a temporary light at the head of the bay, which can effect little more than indicate to the mariner ... that he is abreat of Ardglass Bay." The villagers of Ardglass, left to their own devices, given no money by the government to clear the debris or erect warning lights had done practically the only thing they could afford to do. They found that, by placing one red light in someones house right at the head of the bay, they could give approaching ships at least some indication of where the harbour was and the correct course to take.

Ordnance Survey map of the mid 1800s clearly showing the lighthouse (Light Ho.) at the head of the bay in the top left hand corner. The red light shone from there would be seen out in the Irish Sea though there were numerous hazards that would not be illuminated. The Google Street View photograph below shows the view from the "Lighthouse" looking out to sea and demonstrates clearly why this spot was chosen. (Spoiler alert: Lighthouse No.6 has photo bombed this picture on the right hand side.)

Captain Denham went on to detail the problems with this light. It is under the lee of the debris of this pier, he said "that one hundred and thirty-seven vessels per year still find shelter, notwithstanding (that) the operation of the harbour light is no longer to guide them up and around the pierhead but merely denotes when they are right off the mouth of the bay itself. This light is now exhibited from a stable loft window ... and is intended to throw its (beam) so definedly down the fairway of the bay as to clear of its limits the ruin of its pier on the western hand and the rocky fangs on the eastern hand; but this never-obtained objective of a single light fails as usual here, for it is as apt to lead on to the dangers right and left as between them. The western margin of its (beam) intersects 150 feet of the pier debris. Indeed the light, placed as it is, not only fails in denoting a fairway direction, but imparts no notion of distance, so that a vessel has been known to run past the pier haven, right up upon the strand at the head of the bay."
What we can take from this, despite the obvious and justified criticisms, that this was not merely a 100W bulb in someone's window (okay, they hadn't been invented but you know what I mean) but a proper lighthouse light, capable of throwing a beam that widened out from its single source. The logical explanation is that it was one of the three lights harvested from Lighthouses 2,3 or 4.
Captain Denham mentions the light shining from a stable loft; other sources mention that it shone from a house. It may be that it started in the stable and then got moved to the house (a House-light Light-house?) but even I am not going to be so pedantic as to label them as different lights!
The house has long gone but Griffiths Valuation on now comes with a lovely map that you can slide from the historical to the present day.

In the original Griffiths Valuation map, the Lighthouse is clearly on Plot 2. The corresponding modern day Google street view on Strangford Road is below. It appears that the entity known as The Cottage would have lain behind the blue hoardings. Whether the light itself was exhibited from the grass-covered plot or the newer house is unclear, but obviously the old house has gone.

The detail of the Griffiths Valuation entry is quite confusing to a person of limited intelligence like myself. Plot no.2 is designated as being divided into three entries. The first is the Rev. William McMullen, who is occupying 2 acres of land belonging to Aubrey de Vere Beauclerk (who owned practically the whole village). The second is a House and small garden unoccupied but owned by the Reverend (why he chose to sleep in a field when he had a perfectly good house is beyond me) The third is the lighthouse which the bounteous Beauclerk allowed a half-price reduction of rent, in return for shining the light. Is this the first example of a red light being shone from a vicarage? Joking aside, this would seem to imply that the light was being exhibited from somewhere other than a house, possibly, as the good Captain states, a stable.

Anyhow, things really started to move in 1866 when the southern pier, the one destroyed in 1838, was rebuilt. However, the lighthouse was not rebuilt. Instead, thanks to the lightning pace of lighthouse construction, it took another 21 years before the current light was erected, on the north pier instead.
Thus the 'temporary' light shone down the bay for nearly 50 years.

Nest post - Lighthouse No.6

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The six Ardglass lighthouses - Nos. 3 and 4

Following on from the speculative Ardglass No.1 and the patriarchal Ardglass No.2, I have decided to dedicate this post to Nos. 3 and 4 together as it would be logistically impossible to separate the two.
We left Ardglass with business booming. A south pier had been constructed with a new lighthouse at the end of it (1817) and the herring was being landed in large amounts. Steam packets were plying their trade between Ardglass and Liverpool and the Isle of Man and dwelling houses for rent were constantly being advertised in the newspapers as the town sought to promote itself as a health spa.

However, there had been criticism in various quarters that the south pier had not gone far enough. Literally. A longer pier would offer more protection and would accommodate a much larger amount of boats. An Act of Parliament in 1830 delivered a method of redress. Harbour commissioners could now borrow money on the strength of future harbour dues and Ardglass's landlord, William Ogilvie, who had built the first pier, borrowed £6,000, placed it with his own £16,000, and began the work of building the extension to the harbour. The old pier was to be extended 300 feet out from the old pier, into 17 feet of water at low tide and would be 20 feet broad. A new lighthouse would be erected at the end of it and the old 1817 light pulled down.
William Ogilvy died early into the project and the work was carried on by his stepson (in some reports, nephew) and inheritor, Major Beauclerk who, according to the Belfast Newsletter in March 1835, was popular with his subjects, (despite his three year absence):

Work continued. According to Samuel Lewis in his wonderful 1837 Topography of Ireland, "A handsome lighthouse is now being erected on the pier, which is connected with the land by a very capacious wharf covering nearly an acre of ground, with a basin of semi-circular form, beyond which are the quays for the colliers." 
Unfortunately, this is the only description of this short-lived lighthouse I have come across. Handsome. Better than nothing, I suppose. Without Wandering Sam, we could only guess at its ugliness or lack of.
A map exists, dating to roughly 1837 / 1838, showing the new pier, evidently under construction.

The lighthouse indicated would have been the old 1817 lighthouse, which had been at the end of the original pier. By this time, it would have been extinguished. The new lighthouse, not yet operational would have been at the end of the pier extension

As the pier was being constructed, a temporary light was established. It would have been mobile and, as construction progressed, it would have moved further and further along the pier. This same sort of procedure also took place when they were building the east and west piers at Dun Laoghaire.
Perversely, we have a description of the temporary light but not the main light! It was "a small temporary wooden lighthouse similar to a pigeon box standing on a 4-legged stool." For anybody counting, I will label the Temporary Light as Lighthouse No.3 and the practically completed (all except the lanthorn) brand spanking new Lighthouse as Lighthouse No.4.
And then disaster struck. On the last week of November 1838, with the future of Ardglass looking decidely rosy, a great storm arose. There had been constant strong winds for a week beforehand and then suddenly, in one twenty-four period, the weather went off the barometer. And, as the Down Recorder reported on December 1st, the hopes and dreams of Ardglass were crushed in one day.
"‘On Tuesday last the wind at south-east had blown a perfect hurricane during the entire day, and bearing upon the harbour of Ardglass with extreme violence, when about the hour of two o’clock in the day, the new lighthouse, at the extremity of the pier, was turned over upon its base, and fell in one compact mass of masonry, and, in a few minutes more, was hurled into the sea as a block of wood, although consisting of four hundred tons of hewn stone, bound together by iron cramps, rendering it firm as one solid rock; but, in this instance, the fury of the elements mocked the skill of man, and laughing at his projects. It is but justice to those engaged in this undertaking, to say, that the lighthouse itself was a specimen of perfect workmanship, cemented with skill, and having all the elements of strength and durability. But the writer of this, who saw it in progress of building two months back, predicted this disaster (yeah, yeah, yeah), unless the pier upon which it was being erected should be made secure before the approaching winter, as it was much injured by the preceding winter. However in the last month workmen were employed, and the repairs commenced; but then the season was too far advanced to permit of such substantial improvements as would fortify the work against the assaults of the sea and now the outlay of many thousands of pounds are washed into the sea.
‘The new lighthouse had been finished, all but the lanthorn, and in the meantime a temporary wooden structure had been erected for giving the requisite light at sea, and it too was swept away on Wednesday night; the materials being washed up on the beach beside the harbour and then drawn into the town of Ardglass under the direction of Captain Saunders, who was unceasing in his attendance on this much to be regretted occasion. It is feared more of the pier will be swept away by the sea if the Government does not commence the repairs as soon as the season permits.'  The Belfast Telegraph on 4th December, estimated the loss of roughly £26,500 spent on the pier and lighthouse.
A bare five weeks later, the infamous Big Wind of 1839 destroyed practically all the vessels in the remnants of the harbour. A Category Three Hurricane, four people were killed in the locality, the cathedral was severely damaged and barely a home in the country was left unscathed.
Things got even worse for Major Beauclerk later on in 1839:

So, what contributed to the downfall of the pier and the two lighthouses? Well, it appears that the whole project was beset by bickering and arguments, particularly about finance and who should pay for what? From 1830 to November 1838, the pier was not completed. Sir John Rennie's advice to the Ballast Board in 1832 was to build the lighthouse on the headland at Phennick Point, marking the approach to the harbour but the Ballast Board overruled him and insisted on the end of the pier. 
More serious were the allegations that inferior materials had been used on the seaward side of the pier in order to cut costs. It appears that this caused the pier to be damaged in the preceding winter. It then took the best part of a year for communications with all parties to be made and committees to be set up, despite warnings that the damage would need to be repaired pronto or the whole pier might go. It was not before September 1838 that a builder was sent to Ardglass to address the pier damage by which time the easterly gale season was practically on them. The repairs effected in the time available were too little too late and the first major storm of the winter saw two lighthouses, thousands of pounds and the economic growth of Ardglass disappear into the cold waters.
It is unclear exactly when the original 1817 lighthouse was dismantled. It may have been when the south pier was being built. One report, albeit fourteen years later, says it came down in 1839, after the other two got washed away.
So. Three lighthouses constructed and demolished in 25 years. Would Lighthouse (and I use the term guardedly) No.5 be any more successful?