Fastnet lighthouse and a bright idea

Sir, – Lighthouses are symbolic objects and changes to them tend to arouse public anxiety ("Plans to dim Fastnet lighthouse cause upset in West Cork", News, February 14th).

Lorna Siggins reports that the Fastnet is to be “powered by battery rather than the current three diesel generators”.

In fact it has been battery powered since 1969. The (rather large) batteries are now to be charged by solar power rather than diesel.

This is made possible by the use of LEDs instead of traditional bulbs. However, their maximum luminous range is 18 miles, which is the international standard for major lighthouses; about half of the 72 lighthouses in Ireland have already been solarised in this way. The annual saving in maintenance costs for each remote rock station like the Fastnet is approximately €100,000.


As Lorna Siggins reports, the fishermen’s association has welcomed the change. None of the other users has any problem. An 18-mile range is plenty.

The Fastnet light is a navigational aid, not a fireworks display.

Schull is less than nine miles from it, and most of the islands of Roaringwater Bay have no inhabitants to notice. Perhaps if Michael Collins TD and the protesting groups are prepared to stump up the necessary €100,000 each year, they can persuade the Irish Lights to maintain the obsolete, inefficient and hazardous status quo. The structure is protected: the luminous range isn’t. – Yours, etc,



Irish Cruising Club

Sailing Directions,


Co Cork.

Sir, – As an offshore sailor, I think the Commissioners of Irish Lights should be praised for the proposed use of an LED-based light to keep future running costs down.

At a time when many shipping companies are questioning the ongoing relevance of lighthouses in today’s GPS-saturated environment, I for one, am quite happy to put up with a range reduction from 27 down to 18 nautical miles.

Although far from its primary purpose, on a clear night, hopefully, the beam of the new light will still be seen over Reengaroga and Sherkin islands, enabling the citizens of Baltimore to safely navigate their landward way home without having to resort to GPS! – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6.