Friday, June 24, 2022

Good news from Ballyglass

Currently spending two weeks near Blacksod lighthouse in county Mayo, a view of Black Rock from the front of the house and we're walking every inch of the fantastic white beaches of the Mullet peninsula. Two days ago, we happened to chance on Ballyglass lighthouse on beautiful Broadhaven Bay (no idea how we got there, just turned a corner and there we were, totally unexpectedly). 
The last time I was there was ten years ago, less than an hour before I wrote off the car near Crossmolina after a blow-out. The keeper's cottage, I noted, seemed to be in a state of disrepair and news since confirmed that it was on a definite downward trajectory.

Writing in The Irish Builder in 1880, John Swan Sloane who, by that time, had been pensioned off from his position of Chief Engineer of Irish Lights much to his disgust, wrote of the loneliness of the station, in words that would probably not go down too well today!!: -

So we roll up to Gubacashel Point aka Broadhaven lighthouse aka Ballyglass Lighthouse, expecting to find the gates locked and trees growing up through the cottage. Not a bit of it. There's a sign on the outside of the gate mentioning Mark Stephens Architects of Swinford and some feverish hard work going on at the cottage with some planks of wood getting drilled and sawn.
Further research determined that the cottage was, yes, being done up - well, put in such a state that it will not continue to decay. Mark, a fellow blogger, has written a post on the project here and hints that there is some quite exciting news to come in the near future. Maybe Irish Lights are bringing back the keepers?? Oh okay, probably not.

Ballyglass always struck me as one of the most underrated lighthouses on the Ireland circuit. It doesn't have the glamour of a Fastnet or a Hook; it doesn't have the terrible history of a Slyne Head or a Skellig Michael; it is not a tourist attraction and so doesn't appear on the list of Great Lighthouses of Ireland, like Rathlin or St. John's Point. It very much goes under the radar, which is a shame because it is a lovely little lighthouse, despite its alleged loneliness.
Naturally, I took loads of photographs, including some from Inver across the bay. 
PS A further post from Mark can be found here. So heartening to see a man with such a passion for his work

While on the subject of Ballyglass, I thought I would append a few names of the lightkeepers that served at the station. Some of the birth certs may be misleading due to the confusion over 'place born' and station served. The dates are 'definite sightings.' Their dates may be much longer. Broadhaven was always seen as a kind of easy station for keepers about to retire. Any omissions very gratefully received!!

Robert Redmond (1860-62) - marriage cert and birth of son Robert
John Whelan (1862 - 64) - there were of course 2 John Whelans serving as keepers at the time!
Patrick Tighe (1866) - son's birth certs
Peter Page (1866 - 1867) - children's birth certs
Patrick Keenan (1871) - Irish Lights list of keepers
Patrick Keenan (1872) - daughter's birth cert
Joseph Williams (1881 - 1882) - bird reports
Michael Duffy (1882) - bird reports
Patrick Keenan (1883 - 85) - bird reports
John A. Murray (1886-89) - bird reports
Francis James Ryan (1896) - bird reports
Robert Armstrong (1901) - Census
Patrick Corish (1908) - daughter's birth cert
William Glanville (1911) Census
Thomas King (1923 - 25) - Irish Lights record
Walter Coupe (1931) - the last keeper

National Library CIL photograph in Album no. 2. Note the natural stone colour.


  1. Nice to see the work going on! Fiinola

    1. Thanks Finola. Ties in nicely with news from Greenore that the barely-standing keepers' cottages there are also being done up.

    2. Green ore would make a lovely home

    3. Link for the Green ore work please

  2. Great photo essay Pete, lovely to see someone invest so much time and energy in preserving such a feature.

  3. Very informative. Well done. I visited this lighthouse many times. It is special