Friday, December 29, 2023

Separated at birth, Kilcredaun and Carlingford?


Pictured above are Danny deVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger, twins separated at birth. Who?
Well, they are more commonly known as the Kilcredaun lighthouse in Carrigaholt, county Clare, on the northern shore of the Shannon estuary and the Haulbowline lighthouse at the entrance to Carlingford Lough.
The Kilcredaun light (spellings vary in the nineteenth century, making it somewhat tricky to research) is a relatively short tower of 43 feet, sitting on a headland overlooking the Shannon estuary, the light at a height of 133 feet above that majestic river. Until Tarbert was established in 1834, it was the only light on the Shannon with the exception of Loop Head. Until automation it was a one-family light. Sadly this beautiful light was discontinued in 2010.

Kilcredaun c.1900 National Library of Ireland

The Haulbowline, or Carlingford Lough light is much more well known. Situated on a shallow island, that only shows at the very lowest tide, it replaced a less well-placed light at Cranfield Point on the mainland. The light shows at a focal plane of 101 feet. 
Both lighthouses were designed and built by George Halpin senior. One was classed as a harbour light, the other as a sea light. Both are still standing proudly.

Haulbowline c.1906 National Library of Ireland

In actual fact, the lights were not twins, but triplets. The third child born that day was the Coningbeg Light Vessel (the Seagull) which took her place just south of the Great Saltee Island off the south Wexford coast. The longest-serving light vessel on our coastline, she served on her station until 2007 when she was replaced by a superbuoy.
I wonder which unveiling Halpin attended?

Coningbeg c 1906, National Library of Ireland

The reason I bring this up and link the events as 2024 approaches, is that they were all established on the same date - 1st September 2024 1824 - which means there are only eight months left to arrange the flamboyant 200th birthday parties, which may well include guided tours of the lighthouses, particularly for people whose forebears may have served at the light. Or indeed, for someone who might have brought this significant date to the attention of the authorities.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

A lighthouse keeper greets Christmas morning


Once upon a time I used to write poems. Not much serious stuff because I never really got it but bits of doggerel, humorous verse that went da-dum-da-dum, da-dum-da-dee. Did it for many years until I realised there was no money it.
Anyhow, occasionally, if in one of my non-flippant moods, I used to write serious poetry. Seamus Heaney, no less, once said of me, "Who?" This is one I wrote over ten years ago, called

A lighthouse keeper greets Christmas morning

The flamingo pink sun has flicked its first
gossamer lines over the horizon
and is now reeling in this special day.
For once, the sea is flat and calm and grey,
the dancing sparkles chatting like children.

Since dark midnight I have carved and painted
the final piece and placed him in the crib,
among the seals and selkies, the shrill gulls
and fishermen, the rocks and the jetty.
The refraction above casts deep shadows.

Doubtless, my children will be washed and dressed;
They will have trailed the path across the fields
to Mass, the goose still draining on the nail.
My wife will wear her special hat, with wild
white heather pinned proudly to the wide brim.

I must put the kettle on for Wallace.
His hob-nail boots will soon be clattering
up the spiral steps like a prisoner
embracing the gallows. The poor wretch feels
this time of year worse than Doyle and myself.

And then it will be time for me to dowse
the burner that I have nurtured nightly
throughout the endless hours of deep winter.
Sailors, rest well. There will be light enough
today to illuminate the whole world.

Merry Christmas, everybody, 
wherever you are.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

The Cuckold (or Cuccold Mill) Lighthouse, Kinsale


Another lost lighthouse about which we know very little. This is becoming the story of my life. The drawing above is filched from Beam 4.2 (1972-3) and is by somebody called E.P.G.*
Kinsale was once one of the great Irish ports, which is precisely why two of the first six state-sponsored lighthouses - the Old Head and Charlesfort - were built here in the 1660s. With its sheltered harbour, rich farming hinterland and abundant fisheries, it was already a thriving centre of European trade by the 1300s. The Normans had appropriated it and made it into a walled town in the 1200s and the wine trade propelled it into super-stardom.
In those days, the sea extended much further inland than it does today. All the flat land in today's central Kinsale was the harbour, with the old town rising steeply up to the five gates of the town. 
Between the Cork Gate and the end of the Long Quay which, as the name suggests, had a waterside view, there was a mill - on Mill Hill -  dating back to the 1300s. It was also used, down through the years, as a defensive watchtower, a prison and, in the 1970s, as a playschool, although, in the latter instance, only a tiny remnant of the building remained. And it also served as a lighthouse, doubtless privately funded by some rich merchant.

Location of Mill Hill (towards the right of the picture, a third of the way down)

The illustration above - and I have no idea where EPG got his information from - shows how the lighthouse worked. A fire was lit in a giant frying pan and then pushed out over the parapet by the trusty keepers with the help of a metal pole. Simple. Bit of a burgher having to hold the pole balanced on the parapet all night but a job's a job, as my manager delights in telling me.
Next to the mill, there was a ducking stool thang going on in mediaeval times. Witches and women who were known to be irritable or bad-tempered or maybe tutted too loudly, were placed on one end of a see-saw which overhung the sea and then ducked into the water as a form of public humiliation. This was also known as a cucking-stool, according to Mr. Wikipedia, and the cuckold was the contrary woman. Less commonly it was used to censure loose women and later came to describe the men they had cheated on.
I am not sure if the Cuckold or Cuccold lighthouse was named after the nearby attraction, or if the frying pan at the end of the pole was like a woman being ducked. Neither am I sure that I will lose a lot of sleep over it.
James II landed near the lighthouse when he arrived in Ireland in 1689 to put some manners on King Billy. And he departed back to the continent from the lighthouse after King Billy gave him a good kicking. Apparently, there is a painting of James arriving in Kinsale and the Cuckold lighthouse is in it - maybe EPG's source of inspiration - but I've found three paintings and can't spot the lighthouse in any of them.

By the 19th century, the old Mill House was in ruins and now it has virtually disappeared, along with the history within its walls.
Stop Press - many thanks to Andrew for pointing out that Jimmy fled Ireland from Duncannon in county Wexford, not Kinsale. I wouldn't mind but I remember it vividly.
* As per the comments below, EPG was former keeper Eugene Gillen.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Helvick Harbour light


Mackerel fishermen at Helvick Harbour c. 1960 (Photograph from the Capuchin archives)

I know very little about Helvick harbour. In fact, I'm not even sure it is spelled with a 'k' or not, though I recognise the 'vik' part of being of Norse descent. Nor have I ever visited, although I must have skirted past it while driving from Ballinacourty lighthouse to Mine Head. In all photos I have seen, it looks absolutely stunning and is definitely a place where I would like to spend a bit of time, if only the Airbnb prices would come down a bit.
It is located across Dungarvan Bay from the aforementioned Ballinacourty lighthouse and seems to be well sheltered, with a north facing aspect. For older people like myself, the name is probably associated with a gun-running incident in 1973.
I think it was on the Waterford Maritime History Facebook page that I came across the photograph above. A lot of the comments were focussed on the identity of the four gentlemen centre stage but, being a complete anorak, I was drawn to that strange metal structure at the harbour entrance:

Judging by the man on the pier to the right of it. it seems to be around 22ft (6.5m) in height, probably steel fabricated with a light on top. Its like a smaller version of a lighthouse you might expect to find in Oman or Kiribati. We don't really do that sort here. The only one that comes to mind is the Querrin Quay light on the Shannon, which is 92 feet tall.

Querrin Quay Leading lights rear

I tried to find the date of establishment of the Helvick harbour light without much success. The Waterford Standard in October 1926 quoted the Minister of Fisheries as being excited at the prospect of opening up the harbour. He personally had enticed three fish curing entities there and had got pledges from Arklow fishermen to land their herring there. All that was required now, he said, were a few minor facilities like a supply of fresh water and "a guiding light at the harbour entrance." He noted, rather acerbically that the latter issue had come up at a council meeting the previous February...
Did Helvick get a light then? Well, the same paper in February 1934 was running an ad for a council tender "to light and care for three lamps and one beacon lamp at Helvick Harbour for three years at £18 per year." The beacon lamp, I'm assuming would be the main harbour entrance light, so it looks like some sort of guiding light had been established, or at least erected.
In 1948, however, the paper reported there was a need to dredge the harbour and put lights on the pier. Whether the beacon lamp was still there and whether these pier lights were additional to or replacements for the three lamps tendered for in 1936, is unclear.
What we do know is that the light in the top picture was there in the early 1960s. If it is a light. It might be a theodolite or some other maritime instrument unknown to me. So, no, we don't really know that.
Okay, what we really really do know is there is no beacon light there now. Pier lights, yes. I think. I'm hoping someone local can put me straight.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

The North Bull lighthouse

This is the North Bull lighthouse at the end of the North Bull wall, one of three 'North' lighthouses operated by Dublin port. The North Bank is the square one on stilts in mid-channel and the North Wall Quay light is the black and white one at the end of the quay near the Point or the O2. After many years, I still have to stop and think which is which.
The North Bull in its greenness, warns ships entering or leaving the port to keep between it and the red Poolbeg lighthouse at the end of the South Wall. Poolbeg is famouser because you can walk along the South Wall to the lighthouse. And its longer and older. With the North Bull, you can only get halfway along its 2.7kms before Our Lady, Star of the Sea, tells you not to venture further, as the path ends and the causeway becomes ragged rocks submerged at half tide.
The North Wall was built between 1819 and 1824 and was marked by an unimpressive perch. This perch was regularly blown down, hence this notice from the Irish Examiner 25th March 1867.

This is a painting called The Crew of the American ship, Edward, landing on the North Bull, November 1825. You'd think the artist would have gone down to lend a hand, rather than continue painting. Anyhow, I have half a mind (let me finish) that that is a perch sticking up at the end of the wall, probably about to get washed away yet again

Evidently they decided ten years later that an egg was an egg, because work commenced on building the lighthouse at the end of the North Bull. The March 1st 1878 edition of the Irish Builder reported that 

If anybody is interested the Diving Bell, which is a serious piece of equipment, can be found just 100 yards downriver from the Ferryman pub on Sir John Rogerson's Quay in Dublin. God knows what the floating shears were. I have an image of green inflatable hammers from Italia 90. 
The following March (1879), the same paper reported that the light was nearly ready.

And then again, in March 1881, it was reported that the the latest addition to the port's pharology collection had been up and running since August 1880. The new light-

It was of course built and maintained by Dublin port rather than Irish Lights, another reason it is often overlooked.

This is the light as it looks now. Frustratingly I haven't been able to find a photo of the light when it had a lantern and a dome. These days the light, like many others is exhibited from the top of a short pole and is lit by solar panels. The picture at the top of the page shows this better The entrance door, like the round towers of old, is up a flight of metal steps and there is also a fogbell, which is now, I suspect,  ornamental. The light pattern is for a green light to flash seven seconds on, one second off.
At one time, the North Bull lighthouse was red and Poolbeg black as per the colouring conventions of the time, but, since the 1940s, green and red are the new red and black.

Since its inception, the North Bull appears to have been a two-keeper light but the only two keepers I have come across were John Francis Garrett and Henry Roche. It is difficult, with the paucity of records available from the Dublin Port Authority to establish which keepers served where. The birth certificates of the children generally give the shore address, rather than the lighthouse name, with the exception of John Garrett's eldest, Edward, who was born at Poolbeg lighthouse in 1881.
John Francis Garrett was a Galway native (possibly the Aran Islands) born around 1853. His father was a coastguard and John's brothers, Henry Garrett and Benjamin Garrett were also lightkeepers in Dublin. John is listed as a lightkeeper on all of his children's birth certs between 1881 and 1900. Then suddenly, on the 1901 Census, he becomes Inspector of Dredging. On the 1911 census, he is actually recorded as being on the North Bull as senior keeper. Married twice, he was pensioned in 1921 and died at Nottingham St, off North Strand in 1939, allegedly aged 80.
Henry Roche was a few years older than John. He had joined the Dublin Port Authority as a seaman in 1871. In 1877, he was a sailor though in 1879, remarkably, he was 'Inspector of Police.' He was back as a sailor in 1890 and then a labourer for the rest of the 1890s. Finally, by 1901 he found his true vocation as a lightkeeper. On the 1911 Census, he was John Garrett's 'servant' at the North Bull. He died in 1927, also aged 80.

Henry Roche, standing with the cap. I wouldn't buy an ice-cream from the feller sitting on the right hand side. Both Henry and John had departed when demanning occurred  on the 15th September 1931. 

This article seems to suggest that the keepers were resident in the lighthouse for two weeks at a time, rather than travelling back and forth on a daily basis, as I had imagined. 

The lighthouse at low tide. The very tall Star of the Sea construction, further down the wall, is as far as you can get without your cape.

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

The Foze Rocks


Pippa Hare passing the Foze Rocks

Inishtearaght (Inis Tiaracht) is one of the Blasket Islands and is probably the only Irish lighthouse that ordinary Joe Soaps like you and me will never get a glimpse of. This is a shame because it is one of the great lighthouses of the south-west of Ireland. But alas, it is a long way out, the lighthouse is on the far side of the island and no boats go out that far.
It is of course, Ireland's most westerly lighthouse, in fact the most westerly lighthouse of Europe, excluding Iceland. A remote spot with precious little space for cat-swinging and not the ideal spot for your children to play tag. 
However, it is not the most westerly island of Ireland. That honour - and we will generously exclude Rockall in case our British friends get uppity - belongs to the Foze Rocks, two (possibly three) rocks a good thirty minutes more westerly than Tearaght and roughly four miles further south.

The Blasket Islands off the Dingle peninsula. Inish Tearaght is middle left. Great Blasket, which I have visited, is the large one (obviously). Inishvickillane was owned by former Taoiseach Charlie Haughey. And the Foze Rocks are bottom left.

According to (the Placenames Department,) their archive suggests that there were three Fozes - An Feo Mór (Great Foze), An Feo Láir (Middle Foze) and An Feo Beag (Little Foze) Unfortunately, I have yet to see a picture of the three and they are too small for satellite Google to pick up.
The reason I am banging on about the Foze Rock on a lighthouse blog is that this was originally the location earmarked for the Tearaght lighthouse. The great debate of Victorian Ireland was not Home Rule or Darwinism but should the Ballast Board build on Foze or Tearaght? To quote from the Irish Lights website
"In March 1846 Captain Wolf of HM Coastguard recommended lights on the south, south west, and west coasts of Ireland, and mentioned Galley Head, Bull Rock, Foze Rocks and Blackrock Co. Mayo. In 1849 the Cork Harbour Commissioners drew the attention of the Corporation for Preserving and Improving the Port of Dublin (the Ballast Board) to the matter, and the Board's Inspector of Works and Inspector of Lighthouses, George Halpin (senior), agreed that lights should be placed at those stations. 
'In 1857 the Inspecting Committee of the Ballast Board, together with representatives from Trinity House, visited the area. Trinity House decided that the Great Foze Rock was the best place for a lighthouse; however, the Ballast Board preferred Inishtearaght as Foze Rock presented building difficulties and a lighthouse on such an exposed rock would be unlikely to stand up against the heavy seas during winter gales. The Board of Trade ordered that the matter should be given further consideration."
In fact, it seemed, according to the Irish Builder of 15th June 1862, that the debate had been settled:

However, "in 1863 the Inspecting Committee accompanied by Captain Sullivan of the Board of Trade and a committee from Trinity House inspected the Foze Rocks. Trinity House still maintained that the Foze Rocks was the best position claiming that they had built lighthouses on equally as exposed rocks. The Ballast Board held on to their preference for Inishtearaght and in September 1863 after much correspondence the Board of Trade directed the Ballast Board to erect a lighthouse on Inishtearaght."
To be fair to the Ballast Board, I reckon they were proved right. We know what happened to the Calf Rock along that same stretch of coast in 1881. 

The Little Foze

And so that was that and the Foze Rocks sunk (not literally) into obscurity for 120 years. I doubt you could have picked out a lighthouse on Foze anyway, even one 50 feet tall. Problem is that now you had some rocks out in the Atlantic that weren't even marked with a perch, never mind a light.
But then two events happened which thrust it, if not into the limelight, at least back on stage behind the curtain.
Firstly, it was learned that our Great Leader, Charles J. Haughey, while working tirelessly to heave the country out of the economic morass we were in during the 1980s, decided with some friends on Inishvickillane to take advantage of a day with the sea as flat and calm as glass to visit the Great Foze. Not only did they land but they had a party there and on leaving, left a bottle of Cork Dry Gin and several glasses on the island for the benefit of any poor mariner that might be shipwrecked thereon.
Secondly, the  Round Island Yacht Races of the late 20 teens threw up an odd scenario to do with record times. In sailing around Ireland, you naturally have to sail around Ireland. Even I can grasp that. But there are strict specifications about routes you can use. Naturally you have to go around the Blaskets, but the Foze Rocks weren't mentioned in the specifications, so technically, you could dive in between the Foze Rocks and Inishvickillane. 
Well, in one of the races you could. Afloat wrote two great articles about it here and here. Seems there are two races that circumnavigate Ireland, one going clockwise and one anti-clockwise but the routes aren't quite the same. And both were claiming record times.
Oh and we also got one of Robert Calwell's mid-nineteenth century sketches of the two (or is it three Foze Rocks) complete with the very important longitude coordinates.

(Just as a postscript, check the date on one of those Afloat articles!)

Incidentally, I came across the following story while researching the Foze.
Nothing to do with lighthouses, or maybe it had to do with the absence of them, I am completely astounded by the lack of information I can find on a ship called "The Monarch of the Sea," an emigrant ship which left Liverpool on 20th March 1866 bound for New York with a conservative estimate of 700 passengers and 59 crew onboard.. Between May and July the newspapers are full of speculation as to what had become of it. Then in July, bodies and driftwood started washing up on the Dingle and Blasket coastlines, seemingly confirming the worst.
And then... nothing. Not a word. No inquest, no news that anything had been found. It was surely Ireland's worst peacetime maritime disaster but it appears to have been airbrushed from history? Or does it count as 'our' disaster if the journey started in another country? Plenty of the names of those lost are Irish though.

The Daily Post 11th July 1866

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Scattery Island lighthouse


Scattery Island lighthouse

Back in September, I wrote a post about my visit to Scattery Island and the renovation of the keepers' cottage thereon. I also promised to write about the lighthouse itself and then promptly forgot. Being over sixty, I now can blame all inaction on the febrile tendrils of my mind - one of the perks of getting old.
Scattery Island (Inis Cathaigh) was the bailiwick of St. Senan, who, like St Kevin of Glendalough, was one of Ireland's great misogynistic saints. It lies off Kilrush at the mouth of the Shannon estuary and for many years was the headquarters of the river pilot industry on the Shannon. 
Lightkeeper Don Scanlan, himself a Scattery man, wrote in his wonderful book "Memories of an Islander" how the pilots had originally operated from Pilot's Hill in Kilbaha, close to Loop Head, but after a tragedy in which five of them were drowned, they moved to Scattery. Near the summit of the only real hill in the centre of Scattery, they used to light fires at night to guide the ships in and then row out in their gandalows to guide them down to Foynes, Kildysart, Kilrush, Ballylongford, Cappa, Tarbert and, of course, Limerick.

The south-facing view from the island summit where the first fires were lit by the river pilots

The Scattery pilots spawned many a lightkeeper and a lightshipman and the island became a place synonymous with maritime industries, along with the Faythe in Wexford and Moville in Donegal.
If we count the fires on the hill as the first lighthouse, then the second lighthouse was officially sanctioned by the Ballast Board / Irish Lights in 1866. It had a short but unusual existence. Located at the very southern tip of the island, where it commanded a grand view of all boats passing up and down the estuary, it was located in the grounds of the military battery there. (The battery is still there and would be a great addition to tourism on the island, if one could clear the hawthorn and blackberry bushes away from it) The lighthouse, which was begun in 1868, consisted of an iron framework with a lantern room from which the light would shine in all its brilliance. Even more brilliant was the fact that they built on the firing range but unfazed by this minor detail, they built it on rails, so it could be wheeled out of the way when the gallant soldiers wanted to let fly at imaginary enemies. It must have therefore looked something like the lighthouses at the mouth of the Boyne estuary which were also built on rails.
Sadly, a storm sent the whole shebang flying into the Shannon. All that was left apparently was one stanchion which still remains, just south of the present light. Unfortunately, "just south of the present light" is in the centre of a copse of 20 feet high brambles, impenetrable to a Disney prince come to rescue the princess and even more so to this puny specimen of manhood.

Lighthouse from the battery 

Rather than resurrect a failed project, they decided to erect a more conventional lighthouse closer to the cottage. To do this, they built a pier next to the house on the seafront to land building materials. It was certainly better than landing at the regular pier and then carting it to the end of the island. The pier is still visible though nearly obscured by rocks and shingle.

Irish Lights pier

The contract for the keeper's dwelling went to a Mr. Morrisy of Kilrush; while the tower was built by Messrs. D. Crowe and Sons, Dublin. The lighting apparatus, first lit in 1872, went to another Dublin company, Edmundsons. The station cost a miserly £1625 6s 8d.
The light was converted from oil to acetylene in 1933 when the keeper was withdrawn. It was later converted to propane and since 2002 has been solar powered. The light which served for 130 years can now be seen in the small OPW centre on the island.

Scattery Island was repopulated in the 1670s (women were allowed onto it by then!) and reached its highest population in 1881, when 141 people were listed on the census. The last residents departed in 1969.
Scattery Island Tours offer morning and afternoon trips to Scattery during the season from Kilrush marina.

Lighthouse with dwellings, county Kerry behind

Lighthouse, dwelling and battery

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The darkness before the light


I came across a report recently dated 10th November 1848. It is a report on memorials received by the Admiralty relating to harbours and lighthouses in county Cork; memorials which were received from 1) the Grand Jury of county Cork and from the inhabitants of 2) Kinsale and Bandon; 3) Courtmacsherry and its environs; 4) Clonakilty and its neighbourhood; 5) Inishannon and its surroundings; and 6) the residents of Skibbereen and Schull. The report is the Admiralty's response to the memorials in the person of Captain John Washington.
The map is indicative of the deplorable state of the lighting of the southern half of the country at the time. Reading from top left and working anti-clockwise around the coast, there are coastal lights at Loop Head, the Skelligs, Cape Clear, Kinsale, a small harbour light at Roches Point, Hook Head, the Coningbeg light-vessel, the Tuskar and the Arklow light-vessel. 
Captain Washington comes down firmly on the side of the memorialists.

In conclusion, he says,

The Foze is a rock near the Blasket Islands off the Dingle peninsula. Instead of erecting lights at the Foze, the Bull and the Fastnet, the Ballast Board went for Inishtearaght (1870), Calf Rock (1866) and the Fastnet, discontinuing only the upper light at Skellig when Tearaght was established. And the Fastnet replaced Cape Clear in 1854.
The fixed light on the Coningbeg never materialised, though they spent many years trying to build it. But Galley Head, Ballycotton and Mine Head all  came about.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Girls, girls, girls...


Seeing as it's nowhere near International Women's Day, I thought maybe I'd salute some of those pioneer women who first managed to wrestle a few shillings out of the Ballast Board for doing the same job that they'd probably been doing for most of their lives. 
Up until the 1860s, lightkeeping was a very male job, at least officially. The men got paid for keeping the light, whilst the women kept the house, did the cooking, reared the children and, doubtless, kept the light as well, whenever hubby got man flu or there was a match on the telly. Of course, there was a lot of physicality to the work in the old days, so I shouldn't really diss the male keeper. My point is that women did their fair share of lightkeeping too.
(The lighthouses here would not be the rock lighthouses but small stations that two people could manage.)
Up until the 1860s, these stations frequently employed a Principal Keeper and an Assistant Keeper, single men who would share the one house provided for the job. God help one half of a pairing who couldn't abide the other. If you got married, you would probably be moved. The men would be expected to cook and wash and keep the house. Shock, horror. The Ballast Board would have to fork out for two sets of wages - £64 12s 4d  per annum for a PK and £46 3s per annum for an AK.

Our old friend, John Swan Sloane naturally tried to take the credit for alleviating all these issues. He had a history of this but there may be some justification on this occasion. Give these smaller lighthouses to men with wives or daughters and create the role of Female Assistant. No more loneliness. The cooking and the washing is sorted. One house is sufficient accommodation. And, although I haven't been able to discover how much a Female Assistant was paid, one suspects it might not be quite as much as an AK. But sure, the family would be happier as they would have two wages coming in!
Another fact I have been unable to discover is why, on these two-person lighthouses, the male keeper was sometimes a PK and sometimes an AK. If I was to hazard a guess, it would be that a PK would retain his rank if rewarded towards the end of his career with a cushy station. But, 

And so, on the 15th April 1866, twenty-one woman took their rightful place in the pantheon of lightkeepers, all in the new role of Female Assistant. For the record, their names are listed below, together with age and relationship to the male keeper (which, of course, is vital information)

Balbriggan - Sarah Maginn, 58, wife
Broadhaven - Matilda Page, 25, wife
Charlesfort - Margaret Kelly, 39, daughter
Crookhaven - Elizabeth Doyle, 16. daughter
Donaghadee - Margaret Gardiner, 39, wife
Drogheda North - Margaret Redmond, 50, wife
Duncannon North - Anne Jane Lovell, 29, daughter
Dungarvan - Catherine Gillen, 22, sister
Dunmore East - Elizabeth Williams, 48, wife
Fannet Point - Kate M. Callaghan, 28, wife
Ferris Point - Catherine Duffy, 30, wife
Greenore - Anne Lyndon, nr, daughter
Inishgort - Mary Anne McKenna, 44, wife
Inishowen East - Anne Page, 30, daughter
Kilcredaun - Mary Stapleton, 30, wife
Kingstown West - Mary Anne McKenna, 17, niece
Lesser Samphire Island - Ellen Cunningham, 22, wife
Mutton Island - Bridget Carolan, 38, wife
Rotten Island - Margaret Redmond, 25, wife
Tarbert - Mary Anne Corish, 42, wife
Valentia - Elizabeth Sole, 17, daughter

(Just to forestall people pointing it out, yes, Mary Westby does appear to have been the keeper of the Loop Head lighthouse in 1771 but she was very much a one-off.)