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Shining A Light On Northern Ireland's Great Lighthouses

Posted on August 1, 2018 @ 11:08 AM in Walking

Down through the centuries Lighthouses have helped guide ships and sailors safely along the coastline avoiding perilous rocks. Dotted along the stunning coastline on various walking routes, Northern Ireland boasts 5 Great Lighthouses waiting to be explored! 

The Bumblebee Lighthouse

St John's Point Lighthouse courtesy of Malcolm McGettigan

Image: St. John's Point Lighthouse courtesy of Malcolm McGettigan

Overlooking Dundrum Bay in the coastal town of Killough, you can't miss St John's Lighthouse. Located on section 4 of the Lecale Way between Ardglass and Tyrella, St John's is the tallest onshore lighthouse in Ireland, designed by acclaimed designer George Halpin Senior. It's striking tall tower is marked with vibrant bumblebee bands of yellow and black. These vivid colours, which distinguish it from other lighthouses, are known as its daymark. 

The Little Lighthouse

Blackhead Lighthouse courtesy of Malcolm McGettigan

Image: Blackhead Lighthouse courtesy of Malcolm McGettigan

Sitting on the edge of a cliff overlooking Belfast Lough, Blackhead Lighthouse is located only half an hour from Belfast. Built in 1902, the lighthouse has guided many famous vessels to safety during Belfast's golden age of shipping, including RMS Titanic. As well as exploring the inside of the lighthouse, visitors can follow the dramatic coastline by walking the 2.4 mile linear (one way) Blackhead Path which takes you past a series of sea caves and coves towards the Victorian seaside resort of Whitehead.

The Upside Down Lighthouse

Rathlin Island

Image: Rathlin Island West Lighthouse courtesy of Tourism NI

Whether you love wildlife, are a bit of a history buff or simply want to experience life on an island and feel the wind in your face, Rathlin West Lighthouse is the place for you. At just six miles long, one mile wide, the west lighthouse is one of two lights which can be found on the Island. Known as being Ireland's only 'upside down' lighthouse, it can be accessed via the 4 mile linear (one way) Rathlin Trail. Be sure to take a tour of the lighthouse and embrace the views from its cliff-face vantage point to get a real insight into lightkeeping life. The Island is not only home to this unique lighthouse, but also one of the largest seabird colonies in the UK which can be admired from the RSPB Seabird Centre. 

Lighthouse On The Pier

Donaghadee Lighthouse

The character of Donaghadee is intimately joined to its most well known landmark Donaghadee Lighthouse. Since its construction in 1836 this limestone lighthouse has been a symbol of pride to the town's inhabitants. From it's lofty parapet, there's a seagulls eye view of the harbour and town which you can discover by following the 1.5 mile, Donaghadee Town Trail.

The Great Light 

Titanic Light

Image: Titanic Light courtesy of Titanic Foundation

The Great Light in Belfast's Titanic Quarter is one of the largest optics of its kind ever built in the world, and is around 130 years old. Weighing 10 tonnes and measuring 7 metres tall, the optic is a unique maritime heritage object with significance to Belfast's economic, maritime and industrial past. It is totally irreplaceable and is an exceptionally rare maritime artefact. It produced one of the strongest lighthouse beams ever to shine - a truly GREAT LIGHT. You can discover this light for yourself by following the 500 metre Titanic Walkway on Victoria Wharf, which connects the Titanic Slipways to HMS Caroline and the Thompson Dock.

For more coastal walks in Northern Ireland check out WalkNI.com for details.

Jayne Woodrow
Jayne Woodrow  Marketing Officer & Active Clubs Coordinator for Walking

Jayne joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in March 2014. She oversees the marketing and communication on WalkNI, OutdoorNI and Walking in Your Community Project. Most recently she has been working with Parkrun Ireland & UK to introduce the 'Walk @ parkrun' initiative.

4 comments have been posted in reply to this article

Posted by Mary Mac Polin on August 7, 2018 @ 12:57 PM

I have been to most of these and some others around Ireland and abroad. My grandfather and uncle were lighthouse keepers,

Posted by Robert Stocker on August 8, 2018 @ 10:01 AM

The mid and east antrim council have completed closed off the access path to blackhead lighthouse It is expected to remain this way for approx. 18 months

Posted by GARY on August 8, 2018 @ 4:25 PM

All Great Lighthouse,s of Northern Ireland, as one of my many interests I can't understand why my nearest Lighthouse, Haulbowline in Carlingford Lough is not included in this package?

Posted by Denis Campbell on October 6, 2018 @ 10:46 AM

Mary, I guess they have included only the visitable ones.

The photo of Blackhead shows a small building with a radar scanner (for Belfast Harbour Traffic Control) on top. It was the fog signal house, where a Tonite charge was manually detonated every five minutes during fog. My bedroom window faced it!

I lived at Blackhead lighthouse for a couple of years, where my father was PK. In '63 I got a summer job as Temporary Assistant Keeper.

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