Next destination of my day trip was astonishing medieval Hook Lighthouse – one of the greatest visitor attractions on Ireland’s Ancient East.
The Hook Lighthouse (Irish: Teach Solais Rinn Duáin) also known as Hook Head Lighthouse is situated on Hook Head at the tip of the Hook Peninsula in County Wexford.
The existing tower dates from the 12th century, though tradition states that Dubhán, a missionary to the Wexford area, established a form of beacon as early as the 5th century. The headland is known in Irish as Rinn Dubháin, St. Dubhán’s Head. However, the similar-sounding Irish word ‘duán’ means a fish hook, hence the English name. It is known locally as “the Hook.”
Hook Head Lighthouse, which was built approximately 800 years ago, is one of the oldest lighthouses in the world and the second oldest operating lighthouse in the world, after the Tower of Hercules in Spain.
The tower was built by Strongbow’s son-in-law William Marshal, a Knights Templar, known as the Greatest Knight, built the lighthouse tower to protect and develop the shipping trade, which was so important in the 13th century.
The first custodians to the light were a small group of monks whose small monastery was situated on the peninsula. The monks who lived at this monastery would have lit warning fires and beacons all through the years to warn sailors of the dangerous rocks on the peninsula. It was the monks who lived at this monastery in the 13th century that became the first light-keepers.
The monks left the tower and were replaced by the first lighthouse keepers in the mid-17th century. Lightkeepers and their families lived at the lighthouse until 1977.
Finally, in 1972 electricity became the power source, and light-sensitive switches were installed to control the lantern. In March 1996, The Hook Lighthouse was converted to automatic operation, and the last light-keepers who had climbed the stairs and tended the light were permanently withdrawn from the station. The lighthouse is now remotely controlled from Dún Laoghaire by the Commissioners of Irish Lights.
In 2001 the light was opened to the public as a tourist attraction after the old keepers houses were turned into a visitor centre. In June 2011 the structure was placed first by Lonely Planet in its list of “Top 10 Flashiest Lighthouses”; the guide described Hook as “The great granddaddy of lighthouses”.
Hook Lighthouse marks to entrance to Waterford harbour where the Barrow, Nore and Suir rivers meet. The lighthouse operates with Tuskar Rock and Mine Head lights to provide coverage on the South East Coast.
It is one of 70 lighthouses operated by the Commissioners of Irish Lights around the coast of Ireland and plays a vital role in maritime safety. It is also one of twelve lighthouses which make up Great Lighthouses of Ireland, a new all-island tourism initiative.
Hook Lighthouse offers guided tours of the lighthouse tower all year round and is one of the top places to see in County Wexford. The lighthouse is 36.6 m high and consists of two levels connected by stairs with 115 steps.
The scenery was breathtaking. I was very lucky the day when I was there the weather was brilliant, not to much windy and sun came out. I could admired incredible views of the Wexford coastline.
We couldn’t go inside the lighthouse due to Covid restrictions. but we can take coastal walks. Walk go down the cliffs was amazing but you have to watch out for the waves. I recommend taking clothes to change with you, just in case.
There was also a very nice picnic area on the lawn in front of the Lighthouse. You can bring food or buy some in the café and take it outside. Nice selection of soups, burgers, fish & chips, snacks to choose from. Also a small gift shop and free toilets.
Only 3,7 km from Hook Lighthouse there is Loftus Hall – the most haunted house in Ireland.
Location of Hook Lighthouse:
Below my photos taken in August 2021.