Monday 19 February 2018

Tripping the light fantastic

Ken Sweeney

Ken Sweeney

IT is known as 'The Teardrop of Ireland', the last sight of the land for emigrants sailing to America.

The Fastnet Lighthouse is Ireland's most southerly point, sticking out of the Atlantic Ocean like a finger pointing to the heavens.

Once manned by four lightkeepers, it has been automated since 1989, and its only visitors now are a maintenance crew every few weeks to make repairs.

But the lonely outcrop, which is 4.5 miles south-west of Cape Clear, can now be seen in an exhibition by award-winning photographer Peter Cox.

"The Fastnet Lighthouse is one of the most beautiful lighthouses in the world, and is prone to extremely violent weather," Mr Cox told the Irish Independent.

So powerful are the waves that rage around Fastnet, they regularly crash over the top of the 54-metre-high lighthouse.

With the lighthouse only reachable by boat 11 or 12 times a year, the 36-year-old Killarney-based photographer flew over it by helicopter with Neilly O'Reilly, the current keeper who is responsible for all aspects of its operation.

"In heavy weather you can land on Fastnet by helicopter but still be unable to gain entry to the lighthouse because the door down below is submerged by waves," he said.

Inside, the seven-storey tower includes a kitchen, engine room and bedrooms.

You can see more pictures of the lighthouse at the Peter Cox Gallery, 3 High Street, Killarney, Co Kerry, or log on to

Irish Independent

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