Mutton Island Lighthouse


Mutton Island Lighthouse in Galway Bay

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

Mutton island, situated in Galway harbor and comprising of just two acres, was one of those very rare lighthouses where a keeper and his family lived from the start right up to automation. This was because of its proximity to the city and especially because of a sand bank which was still in existence in the late 1800’s and which was exposed at low tide and allowed access to the shore.

Weather played a big part in the keeper’s life. The family depended on certain food supplies from the mainland though they tried to be self sufficient and the children had to be transported by boat to school on a daily basis, weather permitting.

The Scanlan Family who manned the lighthouse in the 1940’s and 1950’s relate how another  Galway family, the Flemings were contracted to provide relief to Mutton Island in their púcan boat. A series of flags would illustrate the requirements of the island to the mainland.

The Lighthouse, one of the final landmarks of the city to be seen by emigrants, leaving on the ‘coffin ships’ bound for the United States in the Great Famine is currently being restored by Galway civic Trust.

A castle and fort originally stood on the island but were demolished to make way for the lighthouse when construction began in 1815. Two years later the light was first exhibited on 25th Oct 1817.

The last keepers left the island in 1958 when the light became automated. The light was then turned off in December of 1977 after 160 years of service and was replaced by a candlestick-like lighthouse close to nearby Hare Island and a light buoy off Mutton Island itself.

The island is an important roosting area for a variety of birds, including oystercatchers, bar-tailed godwits, curlews, dunlins, turnstones, snipe, brent geese, swans, herons, cormorants, great-crested grebe and red-breasted merganser. It is also unfortunately the site for Galway’s sewage treatment plant. They are unhappy bedfellows and increased access to the lighthouse may be at risk due to safety concerns from the treatment plant.

Inactive since 1977

Location: 53°15’10.91″North, 9° 3’12.00″West.

A Note from the Artist

I framed this illustration of Mutton Island Lighthouse carefully. To its side sits the sewage treatment plant for Galway city. The Lighthouse is being restored by the city council and the plan is to turn it into a tourist attraction. I’m not exactly sure how they intend to achieve this without some major cosmetic work on the treatment plant, but I await the result with fascination.



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