The Lighthouse with Helipad, Malin Head in the background
Fanad Head is one of the much- vaunted Great Lighthouses of Ireland, a series of 12 Irish Lights that CIL have developed for tourism purposes. The last time I was here was in 2008 and it was a long drive up then but a beautiful one. Just keep driving north, following the signs for Cionn na Fhanada. When you get to the T-junction, turn right and the lighthouse will appear in about 3kms.
55°16.575' North 07°37.921' West
This light is classified as a sea light as distinct from a harbour light although it does mark the entrance into Lough Swilly which forms a natural harbour of refuge.
In 1812 the frigate Saldana was wrecked on Fannet Point, as it was called then, and became a total loss except for the ship's parrot which bore a silver collar inscribed Saldana.
Fannet Point Lighthouse was first lit on 17 March 1817. Its fixed or non-flashing catoptric light showed red to sea and white towards the Lough, and could be seen for fourteen miles in clear weather. Sixty-nine years later, a new larger and higher tower, close to the original tower, was built together with an extra dwelling. The new lights went into operation on 1 September 1886, the main light was occulting white and red every thirty seconds with its fixed catadioptric second order lens and circular occulting screen around the burner turned by a small clockwork rotation machine which gave a character of 30 seconds. An auxiliary fixed white light in one of the windows at the base of the tower shone over the Limeburner Rock.
R100°-110° (10°), W110°-313° (203°), R313°-345° (32°), W345°-100° (115°)
Height of Tower:
Height of Light MHWS:
Fl (5) WR 20s.
W 18 nautical miles, R 14 nautical miles
I had fondly imagined that the actual visit to Fanad would last no longer than 15 minutes, maybe walk around the lighthouse, take a few photos and be gone on my busy schedule. However, being a Great Lighthouse, you can't go into the compound without paying a fiver for a ticket and for that, you get to go inside and up to the top as well, so, what the heck. why not? I was trying to figure out how many other Irish lighthouses I had actually been up - Hook Head, Old Head of Kinsale, Cromwell Point. So it was an opportunity too good to miss. Fantastic views of course. Inishtrahull is not visible from Fanad Head, though its light apparently sweeps over Malin Head at night.
Fanad Head from Dunree Head