Today in Transportation History – 1965: The Kish Lighthouse Casts Its First Beams on Dublin Bay

A new lighthouse began operations on a shallow sandbank that is about seven miles (11 kilometers) off the coast of Ireland’s capital of Dublin. The Kish Lighthouse – located on the sandbank known as the Kish Bank in Dublin Bay– has since become a familiar landmark for those sailing through this region of the Emerald Isle.

Prior to the introduction of the Kish Lighthouse, lightships had been used as beacons in the vicinity of the sandbank. The first of these vessels went into service there in 1811. An attempt to build a lighthouse at this location took place in 1842 but was abandoned due to severe weather conditions at the time. A far more successful effort was initiated 118 years later when the Commissioners of Irish Lights decided to install a reinforced concrete lighthouse (crowned with a helicopter landing pad) on the sandbank.

Construction on the Kish Lighthouse began in July 1963 in Dún Laoghaire harbor, which is approximately seven miles (11 kilometers) south of Dublin. In June 1965, the completed lighthouse was towed to the Kish Bank. A month later, the structure was raised there to its full height of 102 feet (31 meters). The Kish Lighthouse replaced the final lightship at that location on November 9. E. E. Benson, chairman of the Commissioners of Irish Lights, formally inaugurated the lighthouse. Others on hand for this ceremony included Transportation & Power Minister Erskine H. Childers, who later became Ireland’s fourth president.

Originally operated by keepers, the Kish Lighthouse was automated in 1992. A special commemoration of the lighthouse was held on November 9, 2015, in honor of the golden anniversary of its official debut. Michael D. Higgins, who serves as Ireland’s ninth president, was on hand for this event. Along with helping to celebrate the 50th birthday of the Kish Lighthouse, he discussed the broader significance of lighthouses throughout Ireland.

“These iconic buildings around our coast provide light in the darkness, guide the way, keep our seafarers safe,” said Higgins. “Although they are often thought of as historical structures, lighthouses, along with the other aids to navigation, have always reflected the most up to date technologies and have often been at the forefront of innovation and engineering ingenuity.”

For more information on the Kish Lighthouse, please check out http://www.irishlights.ie/tourism/our-lighthouses/kish-bank.aspx and http://www.irishlights.ie/who-we-are/press-releases/golden-birthday-for-dublin-bay-sentinel.aspx.

A video of the towing of the Kish Lighthouse to its current location is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JecbwKh6U_g.

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