Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Black Rock, county Louth

 A few months ago, I did a piece on an interesting concrete block called Gunnaway Rock off the coast at Warrenpoint in Carlingford Lough. (And yes, I'm aware that the juxtaposition of the words 'interesting' and 'concrete block'  will jar to many people's ears!)
Black Rock, off the coast of Omeath on the other side of the Lough, was a sister of the Gunnaway Rock. It lay roughly 300 yards off the coastline at the end of the coastal shoals. Being submerged at high tide, it was particularly dangerous. A perch was placed on the rock in the middle of the nineteenth century, which was found by an 1864 Irish Lights local harbour report to be totally insufficient and barely visible in clear weather. The lough landlord, Lord Clermont, was unimpressed with their findings.

Turn of the century showing the shoals stretching out from Omeath and culminating with the Black Rock beacon. Below, practically the same photograph at high tide.

Wrecks, frankly, were bound to occur, as evidenced by this Newry Reporter piece from 1877:-

Sailing directions for 1877 describe the rock as being "marked by a perch and covered at three hours flood... on the outer edge of the stony foreshore that covers this side of the lough."
Still the redoubtable Lord Clermont did nothing and it took the wreck of the Shark, on Gunnaway Rock, to galvanise the Lough Commissioners into action. Harbour master Captain Smith had suggested the previous year that,  for the insubstantial outlay of roughly £200 per year, he could, over time, finish the job of lighting the lough. In particular, he said, he would start with concrete towers on Gunnaway Rock and Black Rock (off Omeath) similar to the one he had already erected on Earl Rock, near Greenore.
After the wreck, the Commissioners took up his suggestion and the concrete tower on Black Rock was built.
Sadly, the concrete tower did not last anywhere near as long as those on Gunnaway Rock and Earl Rock. On 23rd August 1898, the Northern Whig reported - 

Four days later, the Dundalk Democrat reported that the steamer was still caught on the rocks but gave further news of the stone beacon-

After this, the Commissioners reverted to a perch to mark the rock, hopefully a lot more visible to shipping than Lord Clermont's stick above the water.

Today, the Black Rock is marked by a pole, probably not dissimilar to Lord Clermont's perch. 

Photo from a 2018 intertidal assessment report of the Black Rock

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