Date Released: 18 November 2013
A challenging lighthouse redevelopment project has been completed on one of the most testing sites on the Irish Atlantic coast. The Commissioners of Irish Lights has completed a re-construction and modernisation project at Eagle Island Lighthouse in Co. Mayo – a landmark lighthouse safeguarding Ireland’s north-west coast. The new light is being commissioned today.
This demanding project on Eagle Island consisted of the replacement of the entire upper part of the lighthouse structure using a helicopter. This is one of the most challenging construction projects undertaken by Irish Lights in recent years.
Captain Robert McCabe, Director of the Operations and Navigation Services with Irish Lights stated
“Eagle Island lighthouse stands 220 feet above the Atlantic ocean, yet over the years waves from winter storms have damaged buildings and equipment in the walled lighthouse compound. Eagle Island lighthouse must provide a reliable and effective aid to navigation in extreme conditions because it is, at these times, when mariners most require Irish Lights aids. The new light on Eagle Island will provide a high quality, highly reliable 18 mile LED light and, for the first time, an automatic identification system. The solar battery system will remove the requirement for diesel generation with consequent environmental benefits and maintenance savings.”
The Commissioners of Irish Lights is actively involved in consolidating its coastal infrastructure which is the latest chapter in technology change that Irish Lights is currently implementing; first came automation, then solarisation and now consolidation. The overriding purpose of consolidation is to provide a low-maintenance, low-energy, and low-cost Aids to Navigation service around the Irish Coast.
Eagle Island’s unique location saw the establishment of two lighthouses on the island, both completed in 1835. Because of its close proximity to the continental shelf Eagle Island experiences unusually large waves and over the years the lanterns have regularly been damaged by waves and water-borne rocks.
Due to these ferocious conditions, a huge storm wall was constructed surrounding the lighthouses. This wall was destroyed by the sea, reinforced and eventually abandoned after a particularly large storm in 1984 when it was decided to abandon the lower lighthouse.
The lighthouse keepers were withdrawn with the automation of the current lighthouse in 1988.
After almost 200 years of guiding mariners to safety, the lantern room and domed roof of the lighthouse tower had reached the end of their working life. The old lighthouse dome, the lantern room, the large glass lens and the bath of mercury in which the lens rotated were all removed. They were replaced with a stainless steel structure designed by Irish Lights to withstand the aggressive and relentless marine environment.
This structure was manufactured by Shortt Stainless Steel in Limerick which incorporates a new roof, a guarded access platform and light pedestals. The roof also supports new waterproof and weather resistant flashing LED (light emitting diode) lights.
A temporary works system was also designed to access the previous dome for demolition works. This platform incorporated the means to manhandle heavy equipment and the helicopter deck on which to land the new dome. Constructing all of this on top of the lighthouse tower was extremely challenging.
Commenting on the success of this unique construction challenge, Captain Robert McCabe of Irish Lights stated
“The Irish Lights team who delivered this complex project have demonstrated exceptional engineering, planning and construction skills and made a positive contribution to safety at sea and the marine environment.”
For further information contact:
Commissioners of Irish Lights