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Position: 52°7.4' N 6°55.9' W
Location: Entrance to Waterford Harbour, Churchtown, Co Wexford, Ireland
Present Tower Built: Between 1170-1182
Builder: Norman Lord, Raymond Fitzgerald
Tower Composition: Locally quarried stone
Height of Tower: 115 ft (35 m)
First Major Modernisation Project: 1859
Supervising Engineer: George Halpin (jnr)
Focal Height of Light: 152 ft (46.3 m) above mean high water
First Lit (Offically as a general navigation aid): October 1666
Original Light Characteristic: White fixed light
Visible Range on clear night: nominal 20 nautical miles
Between 1170-1182 the Norman forces conquered Ireland and during this period one of the Lords, Raymond Fitzgerald is believed to have had the Hook Head tower built. However it is noted that this structure was only deemed to be necessary for a watch tower at the mouth of Waterford Harbour. It is also recorded in the Patent documents relating to the religious order of the times, that a wood or coal burning beacon was exhibited for the sole purpose of guiding Norman vessels into port.
Other medieval records show that the Hook light was later owned by the Augustinian Canons around 1245, and who were the earliest people to have the legal right to collect a levy from shipping for the upkeep of the light.
Later records show that between the 14th and 15th centuries the right to collect a levy from shipping for the Hook Head light was given by the Crown in England to the Redmond family in partnership with the Council Elders of Ross. However these records still state that the maintainence of the lighthouse station rested with the Augustinian Canons in Churchtown.
During the early part of the 17th century the Hook Head (or Point) lighthouse was abandoned, due to the extreme persecution of the Papal Order over the previous 150 years. However other information clearly notes that in 1641 the light was still operation, but with the tower doubling as a centre for producing counterfeit money. It is believed that the actual year the lighthouse was abandoned, was 1649 and shortly after the execution of Charles I and the forming of the Commonwealth Parliament.
In 1657 an unsuccessful petition was sent to the Commonwealth Parliament of Oliver Cromwell in England, by the Governor of the Ducannon Fort, who requested that the Hook light be relit. This memorial was rejected.
In 1665 the Hook light was re-established by Sir Robert Reading, a Member of the Irish Parliament. It became one of only five lights that were ever privately owned and covered by a Royal Letters Patent.
In 1704 the Hook Head Patent with surrendered to the Irish Parliament by its then owner the Earl of Arran. It was then given to the Customs Commissioners who were managing the lights around Ireland.
Hook Head had its first fog signal bell installed in 1838.
Its coal fired light was discontinued in 1822 when sperm oil became the prime fuel. However within a few years paraffin took its place and is believed to have occurred in 1859 when the first major modernisation programme was carried out.
In 1871 the Hook light was converted to coal gas operation.
Paraffin was re-introduced in 1911 when the light was converted for the employment of a Matthews incandescent oil burner. This method was later upgraded with a Hood burner a few years later, which remained in service until 1972 when the station was converted to electrical operation.
As a salute to the oldest operational lighthouse in Ireland, it was one of the last to be automated and de-manned in 1996.
Hook Head (CIL)
(Photos to be updated)