Tarbert Island

Tarbert Island Lighthouse
Tarbert Island
Current Version Built:
Height (ft):
Shannon Foynes Port Company

Tarbert Island Lighthouse was constructed on the Southern shore of the River Shannon by the Commissioners of Irish Lights in 1834. The tower is a 22 metre stone wave-washed structure painted painted white, with a black lantern structure and white domed roof.

The lighthouse stands on the southern shore of the River Shannon in County Kerry and signposts a turn in the river. Originally cut-off at high tide, the footbridge was constructed from the river bank in 1841, allowing access to the tower at all times.

Griffith's Valuation, a boundary and land survey carried out across Ireland in 1868 valued the lighthouse and keeper's houses at £22.

Early in the lighthouse's operation the light shone a fixed light, although this was altered to an flashing isophase character of 2 seconds of light and 2 seconds of darkness in 1905. Acetylene gas was introduced as the light's fuel source in 1919, allowing for the lamp to operate automatically. The keeper's houses were later demolished, and the site of them is now occupied by Tarbert Power Station, which obscures the lighthouse from view on the Kerry side of the river. A Fresnel lens inside the lantern room shows a white light visible for 14 miles, with a small red sector over Bowline Rock to the east.

The rear-facing side of the lantern is blacked-out to stop the light being visible from the land, although the power station buildings block the light anyway. Mounted just bellow the lantern is a rotating radar antenna and at the landward end of the footbridge there is a small flat-roofed hut.

The tower can not be seen or approached from the land as it is located on the site of Tarbert's oil-fired Power Station, the chimneys of which dwarf the lighthouse, although it can be viewed distantly from the opposite side of the River in County Cork, near Killimer. Without doubt the best way to view the lighthouse is by boarding one of the ro-ro ferries that ply the waters between Tarbert and Killimer. To see the lighthouse from the ferry, you must either board as a pedestrian, or leave your vehicle and go to the upper deck, along the side of the vessel.