Black Head (Clare)

Black Head (Clare) Lighthouse
Black Head (Clare)
Current Version Built:
Height (ft):
Commissioners of Irish Lights

Galway was once a port in which transatlantic liners would call, during which time they would anchor off Black Head, whilst passengers would either board or go ashore via small tender craft. The frequent complaints from the captains of these large vessels called for a light to be established on this headland. In September 1934 Galway Harbour Commissioners wrote a letter to the Commissioners of Irish Lights requesting that they build a lighthouse at Black Head - They agreed with the condition that the Harbour Commissioners would assume responsibility for the operation and maintenance of the light after it was built. With the acquisition of the land, construction was able to begin on April 1st 1935, however it wasn't until 21st February 1936 that the light was able to enter operation due to a number of setbacks including incorrectly sized lantern glass, and design faults with the lantern room. The light was an unwatched acetylene type from start, maintained by a local attendant.

The tower is a white painted concrete structure with a square footprint, topped by a small cylindrical lantern room which was built by glaswegian bronzefounder Steven and Struthers. There is a door on the east side of the lighthouse, and a window on the back of the tower facing the concrete stairs that lead down from the road.

The interior of the building serves as a store room, and would likely once been where the acetylene fuel was stored prior to electrification. There is no internal staircase inside the tower; access to the lantern is made via a ladder, although unusually this is not part of the structure, and is instead carried by visiting CIL maintenance personnel; there is a rail slightly below the gallery on the east side of the tower for a ladder to attach. Behind the lantern is a small room and a bank of solar panels to power the electric light.

In gaelic the location is instead known as Ceann Boirne, which translates to Burren Head. There is another CIL-maintained lighthouse at a location also called Blackhead, in county Antrim, Northern Ireland.

In 1952 the Galway Harbour Commissioners informed the CIL that they would have to discontinue the light due to it's costs, however, after several years of negotiation the CIL took full control and responsibility for the lighthouse.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about this rather inornate lighthouse is it's location, set in the Burren National Park, which is largely made up of karst outcrops. This lighthouse can be seen at close range from the R477 between Fanore and Carnsefin.