It was almost evening when we arrived at the Loop Head Lighthouse. On the way to Loop Head, it was delightful to drive along small country roads to our destination. We passed abandoned graveyards, as you can see in the photo, and vast vistas where there was nothing to be seen, yet they made you daydream. Once there, we took a long walk around the lighthouse. Unfortunately, the lighthouse itself was closed due to the late hour of our arrival. Just a side note to prevent disappointment for people who want to visit it themselves: It’s important to know that the lighthouse is not open all year round, so it’s wise to take that into account. In winter, they sometimes make exceptions for groups larger than 8 people, if booked in advance. (Later in the article, you’ll find a link to their site)
The wind was blowing strongly, and because my rooftop tent is sensitive to very strong wind (you have to be sure that the nose always points to the point where the wind is coming from), we decided not to camp there due to the serious wind blowing at that time. Instead, we drove to a quiet location, a wild camping spot where only a few campers could stay here are the GPS coordinates: 52.737976, -9.524953. It was a tranquil bay with a beautiful view of Doonmore Pier and Slipway. “Don’t you think?”
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Capturing the Enchanting Loop Head Lighthouse
A nerdy deep dive into Loop Head Lighthouse
A Fascinating Glimpse into History
Nestled on the edge of the picturesque Loop Head Peninsula in County Clare, Ireland, lies Loop Head Lighthouse, a proud and beautiful beacon that has watched over the Atlantic Ocean for centuries. It stands as a significant landmark on the northern bank of the River Shannon, overlooking the sea towards Kerry Head and Dingle on the opposite side of the Shannon and the Clare coast. The lighthouse itself is a freestanding, square, four-tiered structure with a metal lantern and walkway, surrounded by walls of cut limestone. Standing at 23 meters tall, it boasts a range of 23 nautical miles.
History of Loop Head Lighthouse
The history of Loop Head Lighthouse is rich and maritime. The initial structure on this site was built in 1670, and it was one of the four well-known Irish stone vaulted cottage-like lights. These cottages accommodated the lighthouse keeper and their family in two or three rooms, featuring an internal stone staircase between two of the rooms leading to a rooftop platform where a coal-fired stove or heater was placed. Some remnants of the old cottage with its weathered exterior walls are still visible today.
In 1802, the first ‘tower’ lighthouse was constructed. This was replaced by a new tower in 1854, designed by George Halpin. In 1869, the lighthouse light changed from fixed to flashing. The specific flashing pattern of a lighthouse is referred to as its ‘character,’ and Loop Head’s character involves a white light flashing four times every 20 seconds.
In 1898, a fog signal was established, and in 1955, a radio beacon was introduced to transmit its Morse signal every two minutes during foggy conditions. In 1971, the lighthouse was converted to operate electrically, and in 1991, it was automated.
The Contemporary Loop Head Lighthouse Today
Loop Head Lighthouse is one of the 70 lighthouses managed by the Commissioners of Irish Lights along the Irish coast, continuing to play a vital role in maritime safety.
Visiting Loop Head Lighthouse
A visit to Loop Head Lighthouse offers a fascinating glimpse into times past. Visitors can explore the lighthouse keeper’s cottage, learn about the lighthouse’s history, and revel in the breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. Early booking is highly recommended. Individuals with limited mobility cannot access the tower and the crow’s nest as there are no facilities available. However, the rest of the site is wheelchair accessible. For exact pricing and booking options, please visit their website:
Access for Campers and Overlanders
There is ample parking available; the parking area is properly paved, although there isn’t a designated camper area. During the low season, parking should be relatively easy. However, in peak season, it might be slightly different. There are also parking spaces for the disabled. The road leading to the lighthouse is quite narrow.
Explore Loop Head
Take a stroll along the cliff edges and revel in the flatlands adorned with beautiful wildflowers – pink heather, yellow vetch, and white honeysuckle.
At the edge of the peninsula, you’ll encounter a sea stone known as Diarmuid & Grainne’s Rock or Lover’s Leap – mythical lovers who spent the night on this rock while fleeing Grainne’s betrothed, Fionn. There’s also an intriguing relic from World War II: enormous white letters carved into the grassy cliff edge spelling out the word E-I-R-E. This was one of the 85 EIRE signs placed along the western Irish coastline, informing American and German pilots that they were flying over neutral territory. Diarmuid and Grainne’s Rock on Loop Head Peninsula, Ireland
Loop Head’s cliff edges offer some of the most breathtaking views in Ireland. From atop the cliffs, you can gaze out over the Atlantic Ocean towards the neighboring Kerry Head and Dingle peninsulas. The cliffs are also a fantastic spot to observe wildflowers such as pink heather, yellow vetch, and white honeysuckle.
An intriguing sight at the peninsula’s edge is Diarmuid & Grainne’s Rock, also known as Lover’s Leap. According to legend, Diarmuid was an Irish hero, and Grainne a princess engaged to Fionn Mac Cumhaill, another Irish hero. Diarmuid and Grainne fell in love and eloped, leading to a lengthy pursuit by Fionn. The tale goes that Diarmuid and Grainne sought refuge on this rock while evading Fionn.
Additionally, there’s an interesting relic from World War II visible on Loop Head’s cliff edges. During the war, 85 EIRE signs were placed along the western Irish coastline to inform American and German pilots that they were flying over neutral territory. One of these signs is still visible on Loop Head.
Loop Head’s cliff edges are an excellent place to hike, relish the views, and delve into Ireland’s history and folklore
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