Built in 1882, this is the largest of a series of pile lighthouses built at the end of the 19th Century. The lighthouse is one of just three of its kind remaining in Ireland. The other two are at Dundalk and Cobh.
The engineer behind the unique design of this lighthouse platform was Alexander Mitchell who by age 23 was to all intents and purposes blind. He nevertheless pursued his chosen vocation with a vigour and ambition that his able sighted colleagues would envy.
Based on the humble corkscrew, Mitchell had patented his “screwpile and mooring” technique as far back as 1833. It ensured that the platform would not drift. The system had been proved at Maplin Sands and Belfast lough and would be successfully employed in locations around Ireland, Britain and North America
Previous attempts at pile driven platforms had seen the spindly constructions migrate with the sandbar, that is, if it wasn’t simply crushed in the process. Floating lights, traditionally used where lighthouse construction was not possible, were not ideal. The movement of the light ship altered the light’s location during storms, and floating lights could break from their mooring, causing havoc for mariners.
In 2009 restoration work was carried out by Derry Port and Harbour Commissioners, and involved replacing the handrail around the outside and the door of the housing on top, as well as refurbishing the housing and painting the cast iron structure. The original fuel used in the light was paraffin, then gas and most recently solar power. The keepers, who lived in town, would row out to the lantern at dusk, light the lamp and remain overnight in the watch room on the deck in case the light failed.
Moville Lighthouse sits a half kilometre offshore from the town and is 13 metres high. It flashes once every 2.5 seconds with a range of four miles with a red sector covering Moville Bank inshore. Its one of a number of lighthouses on the Lough and responsibility for its operation and maintenance rests with the Harbour Board in Derry.
Location: 55°11′ North, 007°02 West.
Elevation: 11 m
Character: Fl W 2.5s
Range: 7.5 km
Each July, since its inauguration in 2011 with a single swimmer, the Moville Lighthouse Swim has attracted a growing number of participants. It’s a shortish one at 1.2km out and back, but now attracts upwards of 150 enthusiasts. I had hoped to catch it for this image, but other commitments intervened. Instead I caught it as the early morning light glittered off the waters of Lough Foyle.
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