Digest>Archives> March 1997

The Remains of Calf Rock

By Timothy Harrison


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Shown here in a photograph by Kathleen Finnegan ...
Photo by: Kathleen Finnegan

On November 27, 1881, a furious storm hit the area. A giant wave literally jumped out of the ocean and took off the top of the lighthouse, damaging it beyond repair. Fortunately, the six men at the lighthouse were all on the ground floor. Had they been in the upper floors or the lantern room, they surely would have been killed. It was decided then that this location was too dangerous for a tower and it was never rebuilt. A temporary beacon was installed on Dursey Island and later replaced by the lighthouse built on Bull Rocks.

One of Ireland's tragic lighthouse events took place at Calf Rock Lighthouse. In early 1869 a fierce storm that lasted nearly two weeks hit the area. Part of railing around the lantern room and one of the out-buildings were destroyed. As the storm raged on for days, one of the assistant keepers who was on shore duty, saw what he thought were distress flags flying from the lighthouse. He gathered six local volunteers to row out to the lighthouse to save his fellow keepers. When he got to the lighthouse he realized that he had mis-read the flags and the lighthouse crew were all unharmed. Turning the boat to return to the mainland, the boat was hit broadside by a tumultuous surge and the vessel overturned. All seven men on the boat drowned before a rescue effort to reach them could take place.

This story appeared in the March 1997 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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