During the six years that it took to complete the East Pier from 1817 to 1823, a wooden beacon was positioned at its extremity to warn shipping of danger, and as the pier progressed, the beacon moved with it. By the mid 1840’s plans were at an advanced stage for a permanent light on the causeway and in October of 1847 the light was established, belting out 12,000 units of candlepower at a height of 12.5 meters above high water
Only 30 years later, the Commissioners of Irish lights were being pressured to improve the power and range of the Kingstown (as Dún Laoghaire was known at the time) lights and in 1892, the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company, which had a monopoly on the Holyhead-Kingstown mail route, complained to the Commissioners of the poor harbour lighting. As a result, the tower on the east pier was heightened by 3.6 metres and a new dioptric lighting system was installed, thus casting a beam on the Mugglin rocks off Dalkey for the very first time.
The original fog bell had been replaced by a tall wooden belfry with a new bell, which in turn was succeeded by a reed horn, then the firing of a gun, a mechanised bell and finally a diaphone fog signal
The lighthouse is surrounded by a defensive battery, but its military service has been uneventful. Its main historical role has been as one of only two stages in the state for the firing of gun salutes (the other being Spike island in Cork).
In July 1968 the East Pier station switched from vapourised paraffin to electricity for its lantern, and became unmanned. The new candle-power was 226,000 units; twenty times the power of its original light.
Location: 53°18.15′ North, 06°07.66′ West.
Elevation: 17 m
Character: FL (2) R 10s
Range: 31 km
The lighthouse at the end of the East pier is one of only two designated spots for gun salutes (the other being Spike Island in Cork). I thought I was going to get lucky the day I arrived to sketch it. Turned out to be the local kids firing squibs over the harbour wall!
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