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The Tuskar Lighthouse.

52°12.2' North
6°12.4' West
Q (2) W 7.5s.
Range 24 miles.
Height above MHWS 33 M
Red sector light to the west.



Co Wexford.
 

The tusker lighthouse is situated on a treacherous group of rocks about 11.3 km (7 miles) off the southeast corner of Ireland, it is an area that has seen many shipwrecks in the past.

The Tusker rock was surveyed in 1811 and plans submitted for a tower similar to the one built in 1797 at South Rock in County Down, the plans did not meet with the approval of the elders of the commissioners, it was proposed by the Waterford Chamber of Commerce that the Saltee Islands 29km, (18 miles) west-south-west of Tuskar would be a better position for the new light, despite this work began on the Tusker.

The light came into operation on 4th June 1815, the granite tower painted white measured 33.4 meters (90ft) The optic was supplied by G. Robinson of London.it had three faces two white and one red, each flash was visible for ten seconds with two minutes between each flash. During periods of fog a bell was tolled every thirty seconds

During the construction of the light two serious accidents occurred, on 18th October 1812, 24 workmen were on the rock during the night a storm swept ten of them to their deaths. The second occurred on 22nd August 1814 when a stone cutter fell from the tower to his death. In 1879 the bell was replaced with an explosive fog signal with one shot every 5 minutes, this was reduced to 1 every 4 minutes in 1934. In August 1978 an electric horn was installed giving 4 blasts every 45 seconds.

Improvements were made to the Tusker in the summer of 1885 a temporary lightship was moored off the rock while the work was being carried out. Extensive renovations were made to the lantern with the old Argand oil lamps removed and replaces with multi wick burners, a new lens supplied by Edmundson of Dublin was fitted. This arrangement endured until 1910 when triple 35 mm incandescent paraffin vapour burners were fitted, these were to serve until the light was electrified on 7th July 1938, at this time the biform lens was replaced by a 500mm annular lens, with a 3000 W lamp giving two white flashes every 7.5 seconds. Tuskar was the first offshore lighthouse to be electrified

In 1972 a concrete landing pad was built enabling the light to be supplied by helicopter, the first arrival from Ballygillane near Rosslare was 30th January 1975

On 31st March 1993 the lighthouse was converted to automatic operation, the station is now in the care of an Attendant and Assistant Attendant, the aids to navigation are also monitored via a telemetry link from Dun Laoghaire.

The rock made the headlines in 1821 when the Assistant Keeper, C Hunter was found guilty by the board of aiding and abetting the smuggling of tea, brandy and silk from France, Hunter was returned to his previous employment as a blacksmith in the Commissions Belfast depot, while the head keeper M Wisheart although not directly involved was reduced to assistant, a few years later Wishart fell to his death on the Skellig Rock while cutting grass for his livestock.

An unfortunate incident occurred on 2nd December 1941 a mine which had broken free rom its moorings drifted ashore on the rock and exploded injuring two keepers, W L Cahill and P Scanlan, both were taken ashore by the Roslare lifeboat, unfortunately Scanlan died the next day in hospital.

On 24th March Flight Aer Lingus flight 712, en route from Cork to London crashed near the Tuskar killing 61 passengers and crew. The plane, a Vickers Viscount 803 named "St. Phelim". Although the investigation into the crash lasted two years, a cause was never determined. There has long been popular speculation that the plane was shot down accidentally by a British missile from their testing range in Wales, this was never proven