Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Calf Rock Lighthouse

From Graces Guide
1868.

.

Constructed by Henry Grissell from the designs of George Halpin. Located on the western tip of Dursey Island.

1857 - Due to the vast numbers of shipwrecks off the south west coast of Ireland, a decision was made to construct a lighthouse off the end of Dursey Point. Many were skeptical that Calf Rock was too low an island to build a lighthouse on and that Bull Rock, that lay further north and was much higher deemed more suitable. Nevertheless, Calf Rock was eventually approved.

Rough seas and high waves contributed to the already challenging task of landing men and provisions on the rock. Construction of the lighthouse tower was completed in August 1864. The lantern, optic and machinery were installed in the following year and in 1866, the first light was lit.

The lighthouse was 121 ft high, and after the light was established, 136ft above high water.[1] tapered from 20 feet to 14 feet under the balcony, and built of cast iron plates bolted to a central pillar.[2]

Shore dwellings for the Keepers and their families were built on the mainland at the south end of Dursey Sound.[3]

1869 A severe storm early in 1869 washed away a section of the lantern balcony rail and a hut containing stores.[4] Sadly, tragedy struck when an offshore keeper thought he noticed a distress signal from the light on Calf Rock. He summoned a crew of six and with them commandeered a boat to reach Calf Rock, but soon realised he was mistaken. A huge wave capsized their vessel on the way back to shore and all seven men were drowned. The lower part of the lighthouse was strengthened by increasing the diameter from 20ft to 31ft.

1881 On 27 November 1881 the lighthouse was destroyed by a violent storm. The un-strengthened top of the lighthouse was swept away. The keeper was in the lower half of the lighthouse when it happened and the six men on the rock managed to make their way to the workers' dwellings carved into the rock face where they survived 12 days waiting to be rescued. A brave crew of seven fishermen captained by Michael O'Shea managed to row to Calf Rock and save the three keepers and three workers. All survived, and there is a plaque on the coastline today commemorating the survivors and rescuers.[5]

With Calf Rock damaged beyond repair thoughts turned back twenty years to Bull Rock being the most suitable of the three rocks the Calf, the Cow and the Bull for the lighthouse. In February 1882 the Inspecting Committee of the Commissioners of Irish Lights recommended Bull Rock to Trinity House.[6]

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