From Tintern Abbey I drove to Hook Head Lighthouse. The roads were quiet and virtually traffic-free and I expected to be the only person booking in for a tour. Not so! Crowds were enjoying the bracing winds, the café and shop and the hourly tours of the lighthouse. At 800 years of age it Hook Lighthouse is still fully operational. It’s the oldest intact operational lighthouse in the world. The Hook Head Lighthouse was built by the same William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, who founded Tintern Abbey.
It’s 4 storeys high with walls up to 4 metres thick. The rib vaulted chambers with fireplaces still exist. One is called Liberty Hall and another The Monastery. On this spot monks lit fires to warn passing ships of local dangers.
A Monk’s Cell
“The Norman structure consists of three bullet-shaped chambers mounted one above the other. Each has an arched cross of stone at the top to strengthen the vaulted ceiling and bear the weight of the chamber above. Together they rise to a height of 100ft to support a light that has guided shipping for 1400 years. For most of that time the lighthouse was manned by monks, who carried timber and peat up 149 steps to the beacon fire, and who slept in rooms set in the walls. Now the light is run by electricity.” [Source : Reader’s Digest Illustrated Guide to Ireland] It’s not possible to visit the top of the lighthouse and see the lamp close up (you just climb up to an outside balcony from where there are spectacular views) but on the ground floor is a similar light from a lighthouse from another County. But this light is only a third of the size and weight of the Hook light above us.
Views from Hook Lighthouse Balcony