Worldwide Lighthouses

Cromwell Point Lighthouse

Cromwell Point

General Information


Established: 1841

Current Lighthouse Built: 1841

Height: 15 Metres (49.21 Feet)

Automated: 1947

Electrified: 1966

Light Information


White: Nautical Miles

Red: Nautical Miles

Cromwell Point lighthouse (sometimes referred to as Fort Point or Valentia lighthouse) was built in 1841 by the Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL) to aid the navigation of ships entering Valentia Harbour, which were to pass Harbour Rock.

First recommendations for a light at Cromwell Point came in 1837 from George Haplin; the CIL's Inspector of Works and Lighthouses. Trinity House agreed that a light would be advisable at this location and so construction was completed within the next 4 years.

The station consists of a 15 metre high traditional stone tower with a lantern and gallery - it is unusual in that it is built within the walls of a 17th century fort, the walls of which would have provided useful shelter on this exposed peninsular, which would aid the growing of a light keeper's food. The tower is painted mostly in white, although the doors are painted green and the gallery railings are red. The lantern is made up of 4 rows of rectangular glass panes, which indicates the age of this tower, as this is a weak design. To solve the issue of this weak structure, it is strengthened by support beams that hold up the roof from the outside; there are 4 of these supports equally spaced around the lantern room.

This lighthouse is typical of Irish Lighthouse Design and one of the features that makes it so is that it's very shallow domed roof which is not as high as on many other lighthouses. The lantern room houses a fresnel lens which flashes once every 2 seconds, giving a white flash over most of the water, but a red sector to the southeast. The white light, which is the most powerful, is visible for roughly 17 nautical miles whilst the red light is visible for 15. The station became partly automatic in November 1947, upon receiving conversion to acetylene operation - a safe fuel source which is safe to leave unwatched. This required regular refueling and therefore the lighthouse was still occasionally visited for maintenance etc. A sun valve would presumably have been installed at this time to switch the light off during daylight. From this date, the lighthouse only required occasional visits to refuel the lamp, for which duty a local attendant was appointed to look after the light station.

1966 saw the next change to the light, when the lamp was again converted; this time to electricity. The electric light did away with the need for refueling.

Today the lighthouse is still operated by Electricity and is automatically switched to a source of electricity generated on-site, in the event of a power failure.

Today the station remains unlived in, although the CIL have transferred the ownership of the 1910-built keeper's cottage to the Irish Landmark Trust, who plan to restore the building to its former glory, available for holiday rental.

The lighthouse is accessible via a short walk from a nearby car park, which is in close viewing distance of the station. The Island can be reached via ferry or use of the bridge.

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