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Lighthouses of Ireland – An Illustrated Guide to the Sentinels that Guard Our Coastline

`I can think of no other edifice constructed by man as altruistic as a lighthouse. They were built only to serve.’ George Bernard Shaw

Since ancient times, long before GPS, radio transmission or radar, lighthouses have served as beacons helping ships to navigate Ireland’s sometimes treacherous waters. The earliest lights were simply bonfires built on hillsides; in the fifth century, St Dubhan established a brazier of burning wood or turf on the headland of Hy Kinsellagh (now known as Hook Head). Today, despite technological advances, these coastal icons continue to serve as crucial navigational aids for the maritime traffic of our island nation, from the smallest leisure crafts to cargo ships and trawlers. By day, they mark the way with their instantly recognisable appearances; at night, by the character of their signals. One flash every two seconds tells a sailor that they are near Valentia Island off the coast of Kerry. Four flashes every twenty seconds means that they are further north, approaching Loop Head in County Clare. As well as representing a unique part of our maritime history and built heritage, lighthouses are a powerful symbol of strength and resilience in times of darkness.