Dons Dublin: The Kish Lighthouse

by Don Cameron
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You cannot always see it but you know it’s there, helping sailors navigate the tricky waters of Dublin Bay. It’s seven miles from the coast, a dot on the horizon when visible, but the Kish Lighthouse plays an important role and has done so in one form or another. The name kish means to trap or snare and many a ship was lost due to the shifting sand bank. 

The treacherous waters just beyond Dublin Bay have been the cause of many ships demise, and in August 1810, the Corporation for Improving the Port of Dublin, later known as the Commissioners of Irish Lights, decided to install a floating light on the Kish Bank. The following year they purchased the Galliot Veronia Gesina (103 tons), fitted it out and hired a crew to operate and maintain a floating light. The light was first operational on 16th November 1811. A gong was sounded off in time of foggy weather, and an 18-pounder gun was fired when the Holyhead Packet ship was passing. In 1842 the Corporation tried to build a permanent lighthouse at the site but the piles were destroyed in a severe gale and the project was cancelled. 

In 1960, the Commissioners decided to erect a platform style lighthouse, similar to those used in offshore oil rigs. A competition was held and the design submitted by Christiani & Nielsen Ltd, was eventually selected. This design, for a concrete lighthouse, was designed to last for at least 75 years. 

Work began in 1963 and the lighthouse was towed from Dun Laoghaire marina to the Kish Bank on 29th June 1965. It is 100 feet high and surmounted by a 32 feet diameter helicopter landing platform.

On 9 November 1965 the Kish Lightvessel was withdrawn and replaced by the new lighthouse whose equipment includes a catoptric lantern giving a two million candlepower beam.

On 7 April 1992 the lighthouse was converted to automatic operation and the Keepers were withdrawn from the station.

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