Fanad Head Lighthouse, County Donegal (Day)


Fanad Head Lighthouse in County Donegal

A4 (210 x 297mm) : 250g/m² archival art paper

A3 (297 x 420mm) : 250g/m² archival art paper

Artist: Roger O’Reilly

The artist signs each poster.

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A Bit of History

Standing between the glacial fjord of Lough Swilly and sandy Mulroy Bay, Fanad Head Lighthouse has one of the most spectacular settings of any lighthouse on our shores. The lighthouse is classified as a sea light as distinct from a harbour light although it does mark the entrance into Lough Swilly, which forms a natural, sheltered harbour. Its location within the Donegal Gaeltacht, on the eastern shore of the Fanad Peninsula, is truly breathtaking, making it one of the  highlights of the Wild Atlantic Way.

Following a tragedy 200 years ago, a lighthouse at Fanad, was deemed as essential to seafarers. In December 1811, the frigate Saldanha seeking shelter from a storm, headed towards Fanad as it frantically fought the raging wind and waves. Sadly, it never reached shore and the ship was wrecked off the peninsula – its only survivor was the ship’s parrot, recognisable as such from an inscribed silver collar it wore.

In 1814 sanction was given to proceed on building a lighthouse at Fannet Point as it was called and George Halpin was given the task of designing the structure. The light was first exhibited three years later in March1817 and its fixed non-flashing catoptric light showed red to sea and white to the lough. As far back as 1871, the Duke of Abercorn was pressing the Ballast Board to improve the light at Fanad, but it wasn’t until 1909 that a new revolving third order lens was fitted. This remained in place until the station was converted to unwatched electric in 1975 and the apparatus was replaced, giving Group Flashing five white and red twenty seconds with the nominal range of the auxiliary light increased to 28 kilometres.

In 1969 helicopters were introduced to provide the reliefs at rock stations from Fastnet in the south west to Inishtrahull on the north coast. Fanad Head was chosen as the land base for Tory Island and Inishtrahull.

Fanad is one of the twelve lighthouses which make up the Great Lighthouses of Ireland, an all-island tourism initiative giving visitors the opportunity to visit or stay in a lighthouse.

Location:    55°16.575′ North, 07°37.921′ West.

Elevation:   39 m

Character:  Fl (5) WR 20s.

Range:   W: 34 km, R: 26 km

A Note from the Artist

On a bright afternoon, the views from Fanad on the tip of Donegal are spectacular, with Lough Swilly below you and the rugged horn of Dunaff Head across the bay. There’s a great tour of the lighthouse, and you can get up to the lantern room (if you’ve a head for heights) and see how the white and red sectors worked for the shipping relying on Fanad for guidance at night.



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