It was originally intended that there would be a lighthouse alongside the fog signal station at Mizen Head but in 1906 it was eventually decided that the signal station alone would suffice and that it should be put into the care of the keepers at Fastnet. Cloghnane Island was chosen as the site, but it first needed to be connected to the mainland and to do so a competition to design a suitable bridge was launched. The winning entry by Noel Ridley spanned the 52 metre chasm at a height of 30 metres above sea level. An early example of reinforced concrete, it was made from the local hard stone. Even the aggregate used was crushed on site from the same rock. This original 1909 bridge lasted almost a hundred years until 2005 when it was decided that it was unsafe and it was closed until the new replacement bridge was unveiled six years later.
By 1909 the fog station had been established and the fog signal itself took the form of an explosive charge detonated at intervals.
In 1920, the Goleen and Lisagriffin brigades of the IRA raided the station in search of explosives. They made away with a half a ton of the stuff loaded onto a horse and cart which was then hidden around the area and later distributed throughout the brigade as required. Because no protection was offered by the Government, all explosives were immediately withdrawn from the various stations around the coast and the fog signals fell silent for almost four years.
The signal was re-established on 29 February 1924 and consisted of 2 shots every 5 minute with a brilliant accompanying flash when sounded by night. This flash was discontinued during World War Two as part of the blackout drill and re-introduced in 1949. The explosive type of fog signal was finally withdrawn in 1969.
A white occulting light with the character Oc W 4 seconds was established at Mizen Head in October of 1959 and in October 1968 the range of the light was increased to 29 kilometres
In 1993 Mizen Head Fog Signal Station was automated. That same year the local community in Goleen Parish registered a co-operative to develop a visitor attraction at Ireland’s most south-westerly point. Today, the signal station houses the Mizen Head visitor center.
Location: 51°26.991′ North, 09°49.225′ West.
Elevation: 55 m
Character: Iso W 4s
Range: 28 km
The hike out to Mizen Head is half the fun because you have to cross the splendid arched bridge, which spans this vertigo-inducing crevice. I decided to illustrate the station from the approach as the actual light is just a rather unimpressive beacon mounted on a pole.
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