The name Youghal translates as “yew woods’ from the Irish Eochaill. The town situated on the estuary of the river Blackwater was in medieval times a great source of the wood, the preferred material for the longbow.
As far back as 1202, the Geraldine owners of the town built a lighthouse on the cliffs at the western side of the estuary. The original tower was seven-and-a half metres tall and three metres in diameter. The light would have been similar to that at hook head, being a metal brazier filled with burning wood throughout the night to guide ships to harbour. To see that the light was properly maintained, they also generously endowed a nunnery called the Chapel of St. Anne with the provision that the order would be the light’s guardians. The nuns fulfilled this task until the reformation in the mid 16th Century when the Crown confiscated the lighthouse and the convent. The beacon was last illuminated in about 1542 and thereafter the harbour remained in darkness for over three hundred years.
In 1848, due to the increased shipping using the bay, the construction of a new lighthouse was deemed necessary and the old tower was demolished. Once again, George Halpin was called upon to design the lighthouse and work began immediately. The granite for the tower was unusually, imported from Scotland rather than being quarried locally. Perhaps it had been set aside for another building. Progress was slow and it was four years before the lighthouse was ready to exhibit it’s light. Standing 24 metres above sea level, the light is now automated with a light flashing every 2.5 seconds and reaching a distance of 30km from shore.
Below the lighthouse and the adjoining privately owned house are diving rocks should you fancy a dip!
Location: 51°56.538′ North, 07°50.525′ West.
Character: Flashing, 2.5s, flash 0.5s, eclipse 2s,
Range: W: 31 km, R: 24 km
When I visited, there were a few hardy souls diving off the rocks below the lighthouse, intent on a dip in the sea. The house is now privately owned, but the Cork Harbour board continues to operate the lighthouse.
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