Loop Head Lighthouse
Loop Head lighthouse, standing at the end of the Loop Head Peninsular is an impressive 23 metre white-painted lighthouse which is a popular tourist attraction in County Clare.
The first lighthouse on Loop Head was a vaulted stone-built cottage dating back to 1670 - this was one of only four lights of this type that we know existed at this time, but this was either deemed insufficient or fell into a state of disrepair and was replaced by another tower in 1720 after merchants from limerick petitioned for a new light on loop head to be constructed.
The coal fired light was replaced by a more recognisable and conventional tower in 1802 and this was fairly similar to the current tower in height. This light was oil powered and used banks of reflectors with oil lamps. In 1802 only 12 lenses were in use but 3 more were added by 1825, but the Limerick Chamber of Commerce still complained about the quality of the light and suggested it should be reconstructed. Despite this, the inspector of Irish lighthouses described the lights quality as being to the same standard of other lighthouses around the coast.
Regardless of this view, the inspector still commissioned a new lighthouse to be built in 1854 - this is the tower we see today.
The lighthouse is probably the best known lighthouse in the whole of county clare and is one of few that is open to the public in the whole of ireland. The inside of the lighthouse is unpainted and the hollow column in the middle of the tower is wooden - it was through this column that weights would have descended the tower, turning the clockwork that would've rotated the lens prior to automation.
The clockwork mechanism, although disconnected from the lenses modern means of rotation remains in place today, beneath the light.
Despite many people believing Loop Head lighthouse to be the only lighthouse on the peninsular, the nearby tower at Kilcredaun, which served as a lighthouse until 2011, actually predates the tower at Loop Head by 27 years.
The lighthouse is regularly open to the public and the adjacent keeper's houses have been transformed into a museum about the light station and the CIL - who operate the station.
During WWII, Ireland remained neutral land and to provide locational information to bombers returning from the Atlantic, approximately 85 locational signs were spelt out on the ground reading 'EIRE' - meaning Ireland in the Irish language. One of very few that remain, exists in front of the Lighthouse on Loop Head and this is as much a tourist attraction as the lighthouse alone.