Sunday, May 11, 2014

Cork Harbour Lights

 Buoy near Blackrock Castle

The report of the Port of Dublin Lighthouse Inspectors to the Board of Trade in 1864 is a fascinating snapshot the state of the Lighthouse service in that year. It details the lights found, their condition, their characteristics and their usefulness. 
 Blackrock Castle with Tivoli Quay behind (looking eastwards from Dunkettle)

It is a long journey from entering Cork harbour at Roches Point to the City quay, with many banks and shallows and in general the inspectors were highly complimentary of the lights provided by the Cork Harbour authorities.
 Starboard marker buoy at Dunkettle

Apart from the Spit Bank Screwpile lighthouse at Cobh, the report lists five other lighthouses, as well as numerous perches and buoys. The lighthouses are at Lough Mahon, Dunkettle, Blackrock Castle, King's Quay and Tivoli.
 Port marker buoy at Dunkettle

The Lough Mahon Light appears to have been at the eastern end of Lough Mahon where the approach to the city turns northwards. It was an octagon shaped light, built on piles and exhibiting a red light. It guarded a notorious shoal called the Meelough (or Meelagh) Spit, which is today a good fishing location.

 Marker buoy roughly where the old Lough Mahon lighthouse used to stand

The Dunkettle light, also octagonal and  built on piles, showed a green light and appears to have been located where the city approach turns eastward, near where the Jack Lynch Tunnel's northern shore disappears under the sea. Both the Lough Mahon light and the Dunkettle light, said the inspectors, were under the charge of men who were quite old and probably not up to the job.
 Looking citywards from near Blackrock Castle

A white light was exhibited from a window in  Blackrock Castle, while Kings Quay and Tivoli lights were 'ordinary gas lamps showing red' The distances from one to the other are:
Spit Bank to Lough Mahon - 5 miles 6 1/2 cables
Lough Mahon to Dunkettle - 1 mile 3 cables
Dunkettle to Blackrock - 3 1/3 cables
Blackrock to Kings Quay - 5 1/2 cables
Kings Quay to Tivoli - 6 cables
Looking westwards from the old Kings Quay

Apart from Spit Bank, the only lighthouse still standing is Blackrock Castle (now an observatory). Lough Mahon and Dunkettle pile lights have been replaced by buoys whereas Kings Quay and Tivoli have both been redeveloped.

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