Running between Burtonport on the mainland and Arranmore is a stretch of water known as the Aran Roads. At its Northern end is Ballagh Rock, the largest of a group known as the Blackrocks. It’s a very exposed corner of the country and due to high seas experienced on this wild coast, it presents a danger to shipping.
As far back as 1867, it had been recommended to construct an unlit beacon on the rocks and when the 9 metre tall conical tower was eventually erected eight years later it was hailed as a great success by seafarers. In the mid 1920’s a black band was added to it’s waist and after that it was decided to leave well enough alone.
It was almost sixty years later before any substantial improvements were considered, when in 1979 it was decided to light it and convert it to a “West Cardinal” Beacon. Using propane gas, however it proved impossible to provide the nine quick flashes every fifteen seconds as required and supplying the beacon with acetylene involved logistical difficulties. In the end it was decided to re character the beacon as a lighthouse using easily available propane and a lantern was placed on top of the beacon and a store constructed.
During the building phase one of the construction helicopters, carrying an underslung container of concrete was forced to ditch into the sea between Arland’s point and Ballagh Rock. The pilot managed to exit the sinking craft and was picked up by the attending boat which luckily happened to be in the vicinity.
The new light was exhibited on 21st May 1982 with a one second white flash every two and a half seconds. Ballagh Rocks was converted to electric using batteries in May 1983.
Location: 54°59.963′ North, 08°28.839′ West.
Elevation: 13 m
Character: Fl W 2.5s
Range: 9 km
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