Howth (1818)

Howth (1818) Lighthouse
Howth (1818)
Current Version Built:
Height (ft):
John Rennie
Dublin Port Company

In the early 1800s it was decided that the Howth peninsular would become home to the Irish port for the mail packet ship, and construction of a harbour begun in 1807. Problems with a buildup of silt in the harbour meant that it frequently needed dredging for the mail ship, resulting in the service being relocated to Dún Laoghaire by 1826.

This sturdy granite tower was designed by revered Scottish civil engineer John Rennie, who had already by this time gained vast experience in the construction of various docks, warehouses, bridges, canals and lighthouses throughout the British Isles. Construction of the tower begun in 1817, and was completed by 1818, at which time George Halpin the inspector of lighthouses for the Port of Dublin Corporation (the precursor to today's Commissioners of Irish Lights) reported that was not suitably constructed for the exhibition of a light or the housing of a keeper, so changes to the lighthouse were made. The large georgian style keeper's house attached to the tower was added in 1821, at which point Rennie was undertaking works to greatly develop and improve the port at Holyhead in Wales, where he constructed a very similar lighthouse to mark the breakwater there. Despite several slight differences, the lighthouse on Holyhead's mail pier is often described as Howth's twin.

By 1836 with the packet ships having been relocated, questions were raised regarding the importance of Howth harbour and whether there was an ongoing need for a lighthouse there. George Halpin believed the lighthouse could still by justified by it's value to shipping in poor weather conditions, giving guidance to the harbour, where they could seek shelter.

In 1955 the light source was converted from oil lamps and parabolic reflectors to electric light, with the installation of a 250 Watt bulb.

An extension to the harbour wall in 1982 complete with a modern automatic light a short distance to the north rendered the old lighthouse obsolete.