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A lighthouse is a tower topped with a very bright light called a beacon. The beacon is used by sailors to help guide their ship at night. Lighthouses come in all shapes and sizes. They are usually located on the coast, on islands, or in the middle of busy harbors. No matter where it is located the purpose of a lighthouse is always the same; to warn ships of danger and guide them safely on their way.

The world’s first recorded lighthouse was the Pharos Lighthouse in Alexandria, Egypt. Built in 280 B.C., the Pharos Lighthouse was more than 450 feet tall and had a giant statue of Poseidon (the Greek god of the sea) at the top. A huge bonfire was lit every night at the top of the tower and was visible from more than thirty miles away! The Pharos Lighthouse was so huge that it was named one the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The tower was used for more than 1,500 years before it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1303 A.D.

The height and shape of a lighthouse was determined by both its location and purpose. Lighthouses built on tall cliffs in the north were usually much shorter than those built on low lying barrier islands in the south. Keepers’ dwellings were often attached directly to the tower in the north but were usually separate from the towers in the south. Reef Lights (lighthouses built directly over dangerous underwater reefs) had the keepers’ quarters built into them. Lighthouses are very similar no matter their size, shape, or location. They all serve the same purpose and therefore have many things in common. The different parts that make up a lighthouse (let’s call it lighthouse anatomy) are nearly identical in design all around the world.

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All lighthouses have a beacon (light) at the top. The beacon is houses in a room with large windows all the war around called a lantern room that is topped with a domed roof called a cupola. A spiral staircase (or sometimes a ladder) provides a way to climb to the top of the tower. Most lighthouses also feature a few rooms near the top. The service room is used to store cleaning and maintenance supplies in while the watch room serves as a place for the keeper to keep watch from at night when the beacon is lit. Additional features common to nearly all lighthouses include external catwalks called the gallery deck and widows walk, a lightning rod, windows, and a ball vent at the very top of the lighthouse that allows heat to escape. No matter their size or shape, lighthouses have served an important role in keeping ships and sailors safe from harm. Their shining lights have served as important navigational aids for thousands of years and have prevented countless shipwrecks by warning unsuspecting vessels away from unseen dangers. Although they are now considered old fashioned and obsolete, lighthouses continue to serve as symbols of hope to this day.

The messages of these long-trusted aids to navigation are simple: either STAY AWAY, DANGER, BEWARE! or COME THIS WAY!

While lighthouses still guide seafarers, nowadays, the Global Positioning System (GPS), , lighted navigational aids, buoys, radar beacons, and other aids to navigation effectively warn mariners of dangerous areas and guide them to safe harbors. 

August 7 Is recognized as National Lighthouse Day. Even with the advent of advanced navigation technology, many lighthouses still sparkle for seafarers.


There are currently 34 ports in Ireland 


West Coast

  • Bantry Bay
  • Dingle
  • Fenit
  • Foynes
  • Galway
  • Killybegs
  • Kilronan
  • Limerick
  • Sligo

North Coast

  • Coleraine
  • Derry

East Coast

  • Rosslare
  • Arklow
  • Wicklow
  • Dún Laoghaire
  • Dublin
  • Howth
  • Drogheda
  • Dundalk
  • Greenore
  • Warrenpoint
  • Belfast
  • Larne

South Coast

  • Castletown Berehaven
  • Kinsale
  • Cobh
  • Ringaskiddy
  • Tivoli
  • Cork
  • Youghal
  • Dungarvan
  • Waterford
  • New Ross
  • Dunmore East

What are the waterways of Ireland?

There are a number of inland navigable waterways in Ireland.

  • Shannon System
  • Limerick to Killaloe
  • Lough Derg
  • Portumna to Athlone
  • Lough Ree
  • Lanesboro to Lough Key
  • Shannon Erne Waterway
  • Lough Erne
  • Lough Neagh
  • Royal Canal
  • Grand Canal
  • Barrow Navigation

What is a Buoy?

A buoy is a floating beacon or marker that is placed in the sea. It can have many different purposes, which determine whether the buoy is anchored (stationary) or allowed to drift.


One of the many purposes are keeping the people safe from strong currents. Buoys mark the end of the safety zone, if people swim past the buoys they will be likely to be dragged out to sea.

Port hand buoys are green and starboard hand buoys are red. They show which side of a channel is safest to travel; accordingly, they mark channels or hazards. ... Red buoys must be kept on the right side of a craft when proceeding in the upstream direction.

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