The wave-washed tower at Tarbert - somewhat of a local landmark - is a 22 metre high stone tower, topped by a lantern and gallery. Griffith's Valuation in 1868 valued the lighthouse, the keeper's house and other related buildings at a worth of £22.
The tower, standing on the southern edge of the River shannon, was built in 1834 along with some land-based keeper's houses - Griffith's Valuation in 1868 valued these at a worth of £22 (which is approximately £2106 today) - the keeper's houses have since been demolished.
The light was originally operated by the Commissioners of Irish Lights and was at first disconnected from the land until a footbridge was built from the shoreline to the tower's door in 1841.
Inside, the building has 4 floors, excluding the lantern.
The entire tower and gallery railings are painted entirely white and the lantern structure is painted black with a white domed roof. The rear-facing side of the lantern is blacked out to stop the light being visible from the land. Mounted just bellow the lantern is a rotating radar antenna and at the start of the footbridge there is a small flat-roofed storage building.
A fresnel lens inside the lantern shows a white light visible for 14 miles, with a small red sector over Bowline Rock, to the east. Originally the light shone a fixed light, although this was altered to a character of 2 seconds of light and 2 seconds of darkness in 1905.
Acetylene was introduced as the light's fuel-source in 1919, allowing for the lamp to become unwatched and automated.
The tower can not be seen from the land, as it is located on the site of an oil-fired power station - the chimneys of which, dwarf the lighthouse, although it can be viewed distantly from the opposite side of the River Shannon from near Killimer. Without doubt the best way to view the lighthouse is by boarding one of the ro-ro ferries that regularly cross between Tarbert and Killimer. To see the lighthouse from the ferry, you must leave your vehicle and go to the upper deck, along the side of the vessel.