Did you know that there are four lighthouses on the Erris Peninsula – which may seem alot for a 25km-long peninsula! However, the rocky shoreline of North West Mayo makes these shining beacons essential.
The four lighthouses in the Erris region are: Blacksod, Eagle Island, Blackrock and Ballyglass (also known as Broadhaven Lighthouse). Blacksod and Ballyglass Lighthouses are both on the mainland, while Eagle Island and Blackrock are on islands just off the coast of the Mullet Peninsula. A scenic drive to view each of these lighthouses brings you from the north of the peninsula to the south.
On a clear evening, you can see the lights from all four lighthouses from the hill at Alt, Bunnahowen (Glencastle Village) ……Ask a local about this when you are there or check in with visitbelmullet.ie for location. This is a fact that is symbolised by a sculpture in the centre of Belmullet town. It represents the four lighthouses of Erris. A welcome beacon to sailors and fishermen of the area.
Ballyglass Lighthouse / Broadhaven Lighthouse
Ballyglass lighthouse is also known as Broadhaven lighthouse and is located on the mainland in the north eastern tip of the Mullet peninsula in Broadhaven Bay. It is in the village of Ballyglass. The lighthouse is 15 meters high and was built in 1848.
This lighthouse was converted to electricity in 1977 and is now owned and operated by Irish Lights. There are large red gates at the entrance and access is NOT permitted to the public. It is still a spectacularly beautiful site to visit even if you cannot actually pass the gates.
This the only one of the four lighthouses open the public. Step inside Blacksod Lighthouse and allow yourself to be transported back in time with one of their guided tours. Expert guides will bring alive lighthouse life as it was for the keepers and their families and guide you through the rich history of Ireland’s great lighthouses and aids to navigation. This wonderful experience also offers one of the rare opportunities to visit a working lighthouse overlooking a working pier!
Blacksod Lighthouse is probably best known because of its association with the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944. A vital weather forecast from the north Mayo lighthouse changed the course of the Second World War. You can learn all about this, and the history associated with this amazing site by booking a tour at Blacksod Lighthouse here: VisitBlacksodLighthouse.ie | Phone (097) 85727.
Eagle Island Lighthouse
The Eagle Island lighthouses were a pair of lighthouses on Eagle Island, County Mayo, of which only one remains. At the time they became operational in 1835, there was a lighthouse on the east and one on the west to guide vessels past all the dangers from Blacksod Bay to Broadhaven Bay, including the Stags of Broadhaven. One of the lighthouses was destroyed by the severe storms.
Although the lighthouse sites sit almost 60 m (200 ft) above the high water mark, during a severe storm on 17 January 1836, a rock was thrown up the cliffs and smashed the glass in a window 27 m (87 ft) high up in the tower building. On 11 March 1861 at midday the light room of the East tower was struck by a rogue wave smashing 23 panes. Storms constantly batter the lighthouse at Eagle Island. Gradually it was realised that Eagle Island was not well suited to human habitation.
The families on the island were rehoused near to Corclough on the mainland at the end of the 19th century, although lighthouse keepers remained resident. On 31st March 1988 the lighthouse was made automatic. There have been no lighthouse keepers resident on the island since.
This lighthouse is now owned by Irish Lights, and access is NOT permitted to the public. Visit this link to see a recent video of this site by Fergus from Blacksod Lighthouse.
The lighthouse on Blackrock Island was constructed in 1864. It is a 50-foot-high round stone tower with lantern and gallery attached to a single storey keeper’s house. The lighthouse is painted white. It is one of Ireland’s most remote lighthouses and the most westerly lighthouse off the Mayo Coast. It was converted to automatic in 1974 after which the island became uninhabited.
The station is now in the care of Irish Lights and an attendant who visits the station with his assistant periodically to carry out routine maintenance and housekeeping. The aids to navigation are also monitored via a telemetry link from Irish Lights in Dun Laoghaire. Access is NOT permitted to the public.
For information regarding the history of this area and its lighthouses, your best port of call is Blacksod Lighthouse. This is also a rare opportunity to visit a working lighthouse overlooking a working pier!
If you have some time on your hands, why not check out our guide to the Top twelve things to do in Erris.