In the early nineteenth century, Trinity House in London recommended the construction of a lighthouse at the entrance to Cork Harbour. Already standing 14m above the tide on Roches Point was Roche’s Tower, which had been built by Edward Roche Esq of Trabolgan as a banqueting room and pleasure house with an enviable view over the entrance to the harbour and the shipping that plied those waters. A law agent was hired to negotiate for the purchase of the tower and some of the adjoining land as the owner was believed to be abroad. As it happened, Mr Roche was at that time languishing as a prisoner of war in a Neapolitan gaol and was as they say, a little indisposed. By spring of 1814 the board were informed that Mr Roche had at last been released and would return soon, but when he arrived almost 12 months later, his rapaciousness got the better of him and having demanded a king’s ransom for the site, found himself the subject of an inquisition, where the land was valued by jury. Needless to say, they didn’t share his sunny assessment of the land’s value, and the sum he got was a fraction of his original demand. By the time George Halpin Senior got around to assessing the ground for the lighthouse, he decided to forgo the tower and build anew further out on the point. By June 1817 the light was established, but the drama didn’t stop here. Just over a decade later the consensus was that the light was too small for a major port and so in 1835 the tower was dismantled and replaced by the one which stands there today. The old tower was transported to Duncannon and erected as the Duncannon North Light forming a rear leading light with Duncannon Fort.
On 1 April 1995 Roches Point Lighthouse was converted to automatic operation. The diaphone fog signal was replaced by an electric horn fog signal with a range of four nautical miles. The keepers were withdrawn and the station was placed in the care of an attendant.
Location: 51°47.586′ North, 08°15.287′ West.
Elevation: 30 m
Character: Fl WR 3s.
Range: W: 37 km, Red: 30 km
You know you’re in Cork when you see the tower of Roche’s Point hove into view. I first illustrated the lighthouse from a landward perspective looking past the village below it, but I decided to do a second seaward view of the station with the tower silhouetted against the sky.
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