Public urged to support lighthouse beam event

Public urged to support lighthouse beam event

8 August 2018

LOCAL people are being asked to show their support for the campaign to retain the iconic sweeping beam at special event at St John’s Point Lighthouse in Killough next Sunday.

The August 19 event has been organised to keep the campaign firmly in the public spotlight with people asked to arrive at 3pm to pledge their backing for the beam provided by a six ton Fresnel lamp which the Dublin-based Commissioner of Irish Lights wants to replace with a modern LED light.

Campaigners insist the iconic sweeping beam must be retained for future generations, describing it as an integral part of the lighthouse’s heritage and a stunning feature of the Lecale landscape.

In April, Newry, Mourne and Down Council backed the campaign to retain the sweeping beam at the lighthouse, vehemently rejecting the controversial proposal to remove it.

Next Sunday, the Lecale Lightkeepers — the campaign group set up to battle for the retention of the sweeping beam — hope many people from across the district will make their way to St John’s Point to demonstrate their support and solidarity for its retention.

Ahead of the event, campaigners are asking people if they are aware of the “destruction and misery” the Commissioner is leaving behind them at other lighthouses where major changes have been made.

They claim that in the wake of work at Tory Island, Fastnet and Mew Island lighthouses, the buildings have been left in a “shambles” as a result of the so-called modernisation plan.

“Don’t allow this to happen to our much-loved lighthouse at St John’s Point,” declared a spokesperson for the campaigners. “No alteration is acceptable. Join us on Sunday, August 19, to show your concern.”

Campaigners are also inviting people who want to see the sweeping beam retained to contact the Commissioner directly to make their views known. The contact email is

News of next weekend’s event comes after it was confirmed the Lecale Lightkeepers recently wrote to the Commissioner, highlighting their determination to retain the beam after reading about the organisation’s plans for the iconic Fastnet Rock lighthouse and seeing evidence of what has happened at Mew Island lighthouse since the traditional beam was replaced with an LED light.

Campaigners point to photographic evidence they have seen suggesting the deterioration of the lighthouse at Mew affecting the tower building, dwelling and storage buildings.

“We understand that the attendant’s furniture at the station was burned as part of decommissioning and are fearful this neglect by the Commissioner is what awaits St John’s Point lighthouse and others,” the campaigners’ letter continued. “The primary aim of Lecale Lightkeepers is the preservation of the light system at St John’s, but we take notice of the Commissioner’s actions elsewhere.”

Lecale Lightkeepers suggest that as St John’s Point lighthouse 

is within the Newry, Mourne and Down Council area, it will now be “very difficult” for the Commissioner to obtain permission to remove the existing sweeping beam as the local authority is supporting its retention.

“Nobody will be fobbed off with a weaker, LED-type light, even if it is placed with the existing lens system,” the campaigners’ letter continues. “We oppose the removal of the existing Fresnel system and its committal as you have done elsewhere, to some museum or other.

“We have formed the view that the Commissioner, whilst paying lip-service to local opinion, is determined, long term, to have its own way in the so-called modernisation of all coastal lighthouses. We would like to be proved wrong.”

The Lecale Lightkeepers have urged the Commissioner to put greater effort into preserving the cultural value of “magnificent lighthouses” at St John’s Point and elsewhere and “not be the servant of the relentless search for cost cuts”. They also insist they are willing to co-operate with any party in any to preserve the sweeping beam and the entire Killough station.